FCA’s Monostable Shifter Lawsuit Is Scheduled To Go To Trial!

There Is Still Questions From Both Sides About The Situation...

A Federal District Judge on Monday issued a decision that says owners of certain Chrysler, Dodge, and Jeep® vehicles can proceed with their class-action lawsuit against Stellantis (FCA US, LLC) for some 266 rollaway crashes and 68 injuries caused by the controversial monostable shifter, found on 8-speed automatic transmissions from 2012 to 2015. The real question is, did FCA US, LLC know about the situation and continue to the vehicles anyway?

2012 Dodge Charger SXT with the 8-speed monostable shifter. (Dodge).

In 2016, FCA US, LLC issued a recall (#16V-240, FCA Recall #S27) for 1.1 million vehicles equipped with the monostable shifter. The electronic monostable shifter (or e-shifter) was confusing to most people and has been legally described as “confusing” and “difficult” to use. The recall supplied a software update to the affected vehicles (2012 to 2014 Dodge Charger, 2012 to 2014 Chrysler 300 Series, and 2014 to 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee), which provided a fix for the issue. 

2014 Jeep® Grand Cherokee SRT equipped with the 8-speed monostable shifter. (Jeep).

So what did the software update do?

“If the driver’s door is opened when the gearshift is not in Park, a chime sounds, and a message is displayed on the EVIC to warn the driver,” the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) stated in a Summary of the Engineering Analysis. “In addition, the engine Start/Stop push-button control logic does not permit normal engine shut-off when the transmission is not in Park. This logic may provide feedback to drivers who attempt to turn the engine off when the transmission is not in Park. However, this function does not protect drivers who intentionally leave the engine running or drivers who do not recognize that the engine continues to run after an attempted shut-off.”

2012 Chrysler 300 Ruyi Design Concept equipped with the 8-speed monostable shifter. (Chrysler).

Among the 68 injuries related to the situation was the 2016 death of “Star Trek” actor Anton Yelchin. After Yelchin failed to arrive at a rehearsal, he was found by some friends after midnight, pinned between his 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee and a brick pillar gate outside his home in Los Angeles. According to reports, Yelchin got out of his vehicle and went to check his mailbox, when the vehicle rolled back down the steep incline of his driveway and crushed him. The transmission had apparently not been put into the Park “P” position. FCA US, LLC settled outside of court with his family for an undisclosed amount in March 2018.

The class-action suit will address the specific flaw and two related issues. It will not determine FCA US, LLC’s liability for the economic losses of the buyers of the affected vehicles. The legal battle will begin on September 6th, as announced in the United States Court of the Eastern District of Michigan.

The monostable shifter was designed and manufactured by ZF Friedrichshafen AG (ZF).

Robert S. Miller

Robert S. Miller is a diehard Mopar enthusiast who lives and breathes all that is Mopar. The Michigander is not only the Editor for MoparInsiders.com, 5thGenRams.com, and HDRams.com but an automotive photographer. He is an avid fan of offshore powerboat racing, which he travels the country to take part in.

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Its in my Stelvio now... this makes American look bad.

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Had this shifter in my 300 and in truth, it took a bit of practice to get comfortable with. I think my son had the same shifter in his BMW and he had similar issues and coached me on its use. The fix at that pre-recall time was very deliberate engagement in Park, which you could not feel by unconscious motion and a double check. Did I ever have a distracted oversight with it ? Sadly yes, my bad and the concerns in this legal action are possibly justified by my personal experiences. Wish it were not so. Designers going forward need to not assume average people are competent enough to overcome inherent issues of safety. Call it engineering for dummies. Their bad.

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Is it just me, or have we let stupid take over? If you have problems with that style of shifter, I'd love to see you try to so much as start a vehicle from the 1920s or 30s... no wonder the older generations are always so dissapointed in those that follow! And now they want to be rewarded for being stupid on top of if. If I was a Stelantis lawyer, I'd be bringing a counter suit up against the plaintiffs for being too stupid to let live, let alone drive!

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It like the unintended acceleration. You can't make anything Stupid Proof. It was a ZF design that people in Europe seem to be able to handle. Are Americans dumber than Europeans? Don't answer that.

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