Fiat Chrysler is recalling approximately 573,876 Ram 2500s and Ram 3500s in the U.S. due to a “potential steering-linkage issue,” and 193,813 Ram 1500s are joining them so that FCA can “secure their brake pedals.” Here’s what’s going on.
Yesterday FCA put out two recall statements for Ram trucks, and they both sound a bit dicey. The first one, titled “adjustable pedals,” potentially involves 193,813 U.S.-market 2019 Ram 1500s, as well as 27,481 Ram 1500s sold in other markets.
FCA describes the issue, which is related to an electronically adjustable pedal position feature, writing:
An FCA US investigation has discovered activating the feature to move pedals to their rear-most position may, in vehicles with the defect, compromise integrity of the brake-pedal assembly. If this were to happen, the brake pedal may detach.
FCA says it knows of no injuries or accidents related to the issue, and goes on to urge customers of the remaining vehicles not at dealers (one third of the recalled trucks, FCA says, are in dealers’ hands) to avoid using the adjustable pedal feature.
When the trucks come in for the recall, Ram says, the company will “further secure their brake pedals while the vehicles’ adjustable-pedal feature is in use.” A spokesperson provided a bit more detail about the repair, telling me: “Adjustable pedal remedy includes a new fastener and a spacer to further limit pedal travel.”
The second recall statement, titled “Steering Linkage,” potentially involves 573,876 Ram 3500s manufactured between 2013 and 2017, as well as 2014 to 2017 Ram 2500 pickups and 3500 chassis cabs. That’s just in the U.S.—in addition, an estimated 86,253 heavy duty Rams in other markets will be subject to the recall.
FCA describes the issue in a statement, saying:
An FCA US investigation discovered a specific steering-linkage configuration on certain vehicles may separate over time. If this were to occur, the driver may experience steering loss.
To learn more, I searched the National Highway Traffic Administration’s database, and found an investigation concerning steering linkage failure on heavy duty Ram trucks. Here’s a look at what NHTSA has been investigating due to two complaints of alleged steering failure on four-wheel drive 2015 and 2016 Ram 2500s:
The failures were allegedly due to the separation of the drag link, a steering linkage that connects between the right front steering knuckle and the pitman arm on the steering box output shaft. The separation occurred at a threaded coupler within the drag link intended to be used for adjusting the length of the linkage during maintenance (alignment) of the steering system. Once separation occurs, turning the steering wheel has no effect, and there is no way for the driver to control or maintain the direction of the vehicle.
The NHSTA investigation summary continues, describing both of the alleged steering failure incidents:
In one report, the complainant alleges the linkage separated while the vehicle was negotiating a left hand curve on a highway traveling at a speed of 65 to 70 MPH. As a result the vehicle departed the right side of the roadway and was brought to a stop in an unimproved shoulder area. An injury is alleged due to the vehicle encountering rough surfaces (ditches) on the shoulder. The second report involved a separation that, based on complainant interview occurred while the vehicle was being driven (reversed) out of a parking space. The drag link and coupler assembly had to be replaced to repair both vehicles.
The photo above shows a drag link on a 2015 Ram 2500 Power Wagon. I don’t know if the exact drag link adjuster labeled above is what led to this recall, but the issue at hand does seem to be related to a drag link adjuster of sorts. Particularly, an FCA representative told me, the recall deals with the adjuster’s jam nuts, as described by the service action screenshot that FCA rep provided me. It reads:
FCA US will conduct a voluntary safety recall to inspect the torque values. If the torque values meet requirement, the nuts will be welded to the adjuster sleeve. If the torque values do not meet requirement, the drag link assembly will be replaced.
FCA is quick to point out that its own investigation, which was allegedly “under way before the [preliminary evaluation] was launched” by NHTSA, is what yielded this recall.