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Fiat Chrysler to recall over 1.25 million Ram trucks for bad code

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV announced today that it plans to recall nearly 1.28 million Ram pickup trucks in North America and beyond. The issue is erroneous computer code that could cause the seat belts to slacken and the side airbag to become disabled during a rollover crash. It has received reports of two injuries and one death possibly related to the problem.

According to Reuters, the recall will be officially issued in late June. The recalled vehicles include:

  • 2013-2016 Ram 1500 pickups
  • 2013-2016 Ram 2500 pickups
  • 2014-2016 Ram 3500 pickups sold in the U.S.

Overall, the company says the recall will affect 1.02 million trucks in the U.S., 21,668 in Mexico, 216,007 in Canada and 21,530 elsewhere. Once the recall begins, affected owners can bring their trucks in for reprogramming.

The company believes the probability of an accident involving the bad software code is very low because a specific sequence of events is required to set the code error in motion. The error disables the side airbag and seatbelt pretensioners -- the locks that seize up and hold seatbelts tight during a crash. The error only causes this, however, when the vehicle is rolling over after receiving a significant underbelly strike, such as from road debris or during off-road use.

In fact, Fiat Chrysler has no definitive proof that the bad code is responsible for the accident reports it has received. It is issuing the recall proactively, although the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has been investigating the issue since December.

The voluntary recall comes after Fiat Chrysler was fined twice in 2015 by NHTSA for being too slow to address vehicle issues. In 2015, the company was fined $70 million for NHTSA found it had failed to report deaths and injuries from crashes since 2003. Earlier that year, it settled with NHTSA after the agency accused it of mishandling recall campaigns involving 11 million vehicles. It agreed to pay $105 million and enter into a three-year consent agreement.

This recall comes after 4.3 million General Motors vehicles were recalled last September for a similar software defect that was linked to three injuries and one death.

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