Chrysler Pacifica Recall Repair Now Available To Address Fire Risk Impacting 2017 and 2018 Minivans

Owners of affected vehicles will begin receiving letters notifying them of the Chrysler Pacifica recall repair program in the coming days, according to the manufacturer.

After nearly two years of being instructed to park recalled Chrysler Pacifica minivans outside and away from buildings due to the risk of that battery defects may cause the vehicles to catch on fire, Chrysler is now offering owners a recall repair option, which will supposedly allow the hybrid vehicles to be safely charged.

The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced the Chrysler Pacifica recall repair program on October 4, instructing impacted vehicle owners to schedule their appointments at local dealers as soon as possible to prevent additional vehicle fires.

Chrysler Pacifica Minivan Fires

Pacifica minivan recall was announced by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) June 2020, following multiple reports of the 12-volt isolator post located behind the driver’s seat developing high resistance, causing the connection to overheat and start a fire.

The recall notice indicated these overheating events may occur while the plug-in hybrid electric minivans are on or off. As a result, vehicle owners have been instructed to park the vehicles outdoors, away from other vehicles and structures, and to not allow moisture of any kind to get on the floor of the second row seating where the post is located, as this could increase the risk of a fire. In particular, the company warned customers to keep wet items out of the back seat such as beverages, umbrellas, or bottled liquids that could leak and make contact with the post.

In a Chrysler recall update issued in February 2022, Chrysler had identified 12 vehicle fires related to the battery problems, one involving a minor injury. Of the Pacifica minivan fires reported, four of the vehicles were turned off at the time and eight were connected to chargers when they ignited.

Chrysler Pacifica Repair Program

In the latest recall repair announcement, Chrysler informed the NHTSA that owners would be notified of the repair program by mail. The letters are  expected to be sent on or before October 11, 2022.

Owners will be given direction on how to schedule a free repair at their local dealer, who will update the high-voltage battery pack control module software. Dealers will also inspect and, if necessary, replace the battery pack assembly.

The NHTSA and Chrysler are still instructing customers not to charge the vehicles and to keep them parked outside and away from buildings until the repair in complete.

Chrysler Pacifica Fire Recall Lawsuits

Since the recall, a series of Chrysler Pacifica class action lawsuits have been filed by owners of the recalled minivans, alleging that the vehicles pose a significant risk of exploding or catching fire. The lawsuits further claim owners and lessees have been left without the ability to fully use the hybrid-electric features for which they paid.

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On May 9, one of the plaintiff’s, Scott Olsen, filed a motion to transfer with the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML), calling for all of the Chrysler Pacifica lawsuits filed throughout the federal court system to be consolidated for pretrial proceedings in either the Northern District of California before the U.S. District Judge Edward J. Davila for coordinated or consolidated pretrial proceedings, or to the Central District of California before the District Judge Cormac J. Carney.

Following oral arguments heard in July, the JPML issued a transfer order on August 3, determining that centralization was appropriate, since the pending actions all present common factual questions arising from the allegation that Chrysler Pacifica Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles “have a defect that makes them prone to fire and explosion and that the manufacturer’s voluntary recall notice issued on February 11, 2022, is inadequate.”

The Panel ordered the cases centralized in a multidistrict litigation (MDL) in the Eastern District of Michigan before the U.S. District Judge David M. Lawson for coordinated and consolidated pretrial proceedings. Such centralization is common in complex product liability litigation, where a large number of claims are being filed in courts nationwide over the similar damages caused by the same product defects.

Coordinating the cases before one judge is intended to reduce duplicative discovery into common issues, avoid conflicting pretrial rulings and serve the convenience of common witnesses, parties and the judicial system. If the cases are not resolved by the time pretrial proceedings are complete, the individual cases will be remanded back to their originating districts for trial.

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