A government probe into the unintuitive gear shifter found in certain Fiat Chrysler vehicles has revealed 266 crashes and 68 injuries can be linked to the part, the Associated Press reports.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration launched an investigation into the shifter after Star Trek actor Anton Yelchin was accidentally crushed by his 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee. Police are still investigating the incident and have not said if it can be tied to the gear shifter.
The 2015 model year Grand Cherokee was among those vehicles recalled by FCA in April after drivers reported difficulties with properly engaging ‘Park’. The electronic shifter returns to a centered position after selecting a gear rather than staying in the position of the selection, which may cause some drivers to believe they have engaged ‘Park’ when they haven’t.
NHTSA dug up 686 consumer complaints about the shifters and said FCA received negative customer feedback about its operation shortly after putting it into production. The agency also said the shifter violated basic design guidelines for vehicle controls.
Following the recall, vehicles sound warning chimes and send alert messages if the driver’s door is opened while the engine is and the car is not in park. FCA no longer uses the shifter, reverting to a more conventional design for its 2016 model year vehicles.
FCA began sending letters to owners on June 24th to make them aware of the problem and to book a service appointment with their local dealer. The automaker said last week it would now speed up the global recall.