The U.S. side of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles plans to recall nearly 900,000 recent sport-utility vehicles because of potential brake problems that could become especially severe in colder climates.
The automaker originally said it didn’t see a recall-worthy problem when it notified federal regulators of a possible issue with brake line corrosion last year, but the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration thought otherwise after learning that the problem can be worsened if the vehicles are operated in sub-freezing conditions.
The recall involves 2011 through 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge Durango SUVs, 644,354 of them sold in the U.S., 42,380 in Canada, and another 181,061 delivered to customers in Mexico and other parts of the world.
The problem was first reported in 2013 by a customer who noticed his brake pedal had become excessively firm, an issue that could result in loss of brake performance. The problem was linked to small crimp joints used with the vehicles’ power brake boosters – which can corrode and allow water to enter the brake line.
Under normal conditions, Chrysler said that should not have any impact on brake behavior. But a further study revealed that if the water freezes – as could happen in a winter like much of the country just experienced – brake performance could be compromised.
Chrysler plans to notify owners of the recalled vehicles in the coming weeks and will make repairs free of charge, installing a shield around the booster to protect the crimp joints from water.
The maker says it knows of one crash but no injuries related to the problem.
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