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5.3M Cars Recalled Because 'Drivers May Not Be Able to Turn Off Cruise Control' (freep.com) 152

An anonymous reader quotes the Associated Press: Fiat Chrysler is recalling more than 5.3 million vehicles in the U.S., Canada and elsewhere because in rare but terrifying circumstances, drivers may not be able to turn off the cruise control. The company is warning owners not to use cruise control until the cars, SUVs and trucks can be fixed with a software update. Fiat Chrysler says the condition can occur if the cruise control accelerates at the same time an electrical short-circuit happens. But the brakes are designed to overpower the engine and the vehicles could still be stopped...

In the complaint filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, an owner from Olathe, Kansas, said a 2017 Dodge Journey SUV rental vehicle was being driven about 70 miles per hour with the cruise control on when the windshield wipers came on by themselves and the throttle locked up. The owner, who was not identified in the agency's complaint database, wrote that the cruise control would not disengage by tapping the brakes or turning off the button. The driver was able to slam on the brakes and get the SUV to the side of the road. "It was still running at an engine speed to support 70 mph and fighting the brakes," the driver wrote. The engine stop button also wouldn't work, but the driver was able to halt the SUV and shift into park while the brakes "smoked significantly."

The recall "includes 15 Jeep, Dodge, Chrysler and Ram models from six model years" which have automatic transmissions and gas engines, according to the Associated Press -- 4.8 million in America, plus another 490,000 in Canada and "an undetermined number" in other countries.

You can check if your vehicle is affected by this (or any other) recall by entering its VIN number at NHTSA.gov. U.S. safety officials suggest checking whether your vehicle has been recalled "at least twice per year."
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5.3M Cars Recalled Because 'Drivers May Not Be Able to Turn Off Cruise Control'

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  • by OpenSourceAllTheWay ( 4894965 ) on Saturday May 26, 2018 @06:45PM (#56680058)
    A nice red plastic button that when hit, disengages all software/electronics that might take control away from you, and either kills the engine completely as well, or lets you take full-manual control of everything? If the vehicles in question do not have that, what happens when some kind of remote hack or virus attack happens on these vehicles? Imagine turning on the news and finding that hundreds of vehicles have all crashed at the same time, with injuries and loss of lives, because some asshole hacker in another part of the world took all manual control away from the drivers? You can see red Stop/Panic buttons in pretty much any setting where dangerous equipment is operated that might need to be shut down quickly in an emergency. A car weighing over 1 ton and going at 70MPH or more IS dangerous equipment.
    • A nice red plastic button that when hit, disengages all software/electronics that might take control away from you, and either kills the engine completely as well, or lets you take full-manual control of everything?

      So what are we talking about here: Loss of hydraulic assisted breaking. Loss of power steering. Loss of ABS and traction control. Cutting a lot of these services while moving is incredibly dangerous as anyone who's lost a utility belt while driving will understand.

      Given the extremely low number of situations in which software in cars seems to do anything that attempts to overrule the driver and the fact that these scenarios are actively recalled and fixed at large expense to the manufacturer I think you hav

    • It is called shifting your car into neutral.
      I am surprised that so many people who tell scarry stories about cruise control or sudden acceleration have stories like the the movie Speed 2 expect it is in a car and not a boat. Where all they need to do is put the car in neutral and apply the emergency break.

      • Where all they need to do is put the car in neutral and apply the emergency break.

        Which is exactly what the big red button should do.

      • It is called shifting your car into neutral.
        I am surprised that so many people who tell scarry stories about cruise control or sudden acceleration have stories like the the movie Speed 2 expect it is in a car and not a boat. Where all they need to do is put the car in neutral and apply the emergency break.

        They should be able to shift into neutral and apply the service brake. The "emergency brake" (parking brake) would be a last ditch effort in case of a hydraulic failure. You'll get more braking effort standing on the service brake, even if the vacuum assist is depleted.

    • by Agripa ( 139780 )

      A nice red plastic button that when hit, disengages all software/electronics that might take control away from you, and either kills the engine completely as well, or lets you take full-manual control of everything?

      If only there was some type of manual control like a key switch.

      Of course, a key switch is problematical because it activates the steering lock rendering the vehicle unmaneuverable thanks to car companies and the government. I have been in that situation and it is better to let the car run away and crash because at least you can choose where. How dumb is that?

  • by mentil ( 1748130 ) on Saturday May 26, 2018 @06:52PM (#56680090)

    How much faith do I have in 'Fiat' now?! Scary stuff like this is why I bought a Toyota. /s

  • fix it again tony

    • In German, I have heard:

      "Fehler in allen Teilen" (Faults in all parts)

      Or, in English, my personal favorite:

      "Fucking Italian Automotive Trash"

      Heaven in Europe is where:
      - the police are British
      - the lovers French
      - the mechanics German
      - the chefs Italian
      and it is all organized by the Swiss.

      Hell in Europe is where:
      - the police are German
      - the lovers Swiss
      - the mechanics Italian
      - the chefs British

      and it is all organized by the French.

      When Fiat bought Chrysler, I read in an article t

      • Chrysler was actually worse before Fiat bought it. It was always bad, even to American standards. Fiat isn't great, but their cars used to be good value for money, easy to repair and parts are cheap. First generation Pandas are absolutely everywhere in Italy. I wouldn't trust them with anything complicated, though, and they lacked funds to remain competitive with in the past twenty years or so, so the Fiat brand is slowly dying, especially outside of Italy.

      • Man that is outdated. Have you driven a modern German car? Of course not, no one drives a modern German car, they sit in the tow truck up front. I used to have incredible respect for German engineering. Emphasis on the past tense.

        BMW - Bayerische Mist Wagen (Bavarian Shit Wagon)

        • Have you driven a modern German car?

          I currently own a Mercedes and previously owned another Mercedes and a VW. I've never had any problems with them.

          I grew up with a '65 Mercury Monterrey . . . with a notch back and sliding rear window! That thing simply refused to die. My parents gave it to me, and I finally sold it for $100 in 1985. Still running, but a serious gas guzzler.

          On the other hand . . . my parents bought a Chevy Impala in the 70's, which seemed to have rolled off the assembly line already broken.

          After years of driving Germa

          • After years of driving German cars, when I drive an American car, the steering and seats seem "mushy".

            Oh I agree with you. I didn't say American cars were any better. In fact the German cars are still wonderfully engineered, handle well, and are a dream to drive. The modern ones just unfortunately don't deserve their reputation as reliable one little bit. It used to be a tossup between German an Japanese. Now it's not even a contest anymore.

          • I had a 2001 SLK.

            The interior had this rubber coating that peeled off after a few years and made the car look like it had leprosy. The crank position sensor was specially designed to die in engine heat so it went out about every 50k miles. The EGR hoses turned to a brittle mess in engine heat as well. The AC blower fan controller died about that often as well. The power seat switch post was very fragile and in a spot where it'd be bumped getting the car. The switch is fine, this is just a 10 cent plastic
  • by ptaff ( 165113 ) on Saturday May 26, 2018 @06:58PM (#56680120) Homepage

    We need more computers and code in cars! And make all systems internet-connected so that they become as safe as other IoT devices. For sure programmers working for the transport industry are way more competent than in any other field, and source code unavailability ensures security.

    • If they build it using agile methods, it can be cheaper, too. Win-win, right?
    • Fado, fado, fado, ... I was once courted by F to move to Detroit and lead an ecm software group, I mentioned my wife needed special medical care and in the period before everyone gets the same plan days, they offered to pay any deductibles or special uncovered medical costs. I started getting serious then and was doing my due diligence. They had an offer on the table that was real hard to ignore even though I worked in central engineering of a major computer maker. During my due diligence I found that on th
  • They already had one person die from cruise control and gear shifting failing.

    At this point, they need a physical object that can put the car into neutral (so you still have steering and power) and then another one that will kill the engine- easiest way might be a physical switch for the gasline. Some trucks have them now to swap between tanks. Just switch off the fuel.

  • Electronics (Score:5, Interesting)

    by networkzombie ( 921324 ) on Saturday May 26, 2018 @07:14PM (#56680198)
    Shift into neutral. If your transmission has only electronic controls, then you really do not ever have control of your car. I once had an object obstruct the carburetor throttle on my old Buick (an acorn left by a squirrel). When the car kept going 70 after hitting the brakes, I immediately shifted to neutral. I could actually keep driving by shifting between neutral and drive (bad for tranny but kept me going). Every time I use cruise control I am horrifically aware that I am putting my life in the hands of some under paid programmer. I don't want to get a new car because I like my key. My key can turn off the engine without locking the steering wheel or turning off the any electronics like my radio or Bluetooth (Acura). My step mother forgets to turn off her car because she takes her key fob when leaving but forgetting to push a button. People leaving these types of cars on in their garage have died from carbon monoxide poisoning. Many electronics in vehicles are solutions looking for a problem. If you need a damn key fob, why not just stick it in and turn it? Remember having to get your ass up to change the TV channel? Now get off my lawn!
    • Shift into neutral. If your transmission has only electronic controls, then you really do not ever have control of your car.

      From what I've read, the ZF 8 speed transmission has only an electronically-controlled limp home mode. That means that if the TCM goes completely tits up (or its power supply does) then you're done. And it's in like, practically everything out there now. I would imagine this applies to anything newer than that, more or less. It lets them eliminate the linkage, but it also eliminates a meaningful limp mode.

      My 1998 Audi A8 Quattro has an unbelievably fragile transmission (ZF5HP42A) but at least it has an actu

    • Now get off my lawn!

      May I interest you in an electric fence?

    • by Jahoda ( 2715225 )
      People leaving these types of cars on in their garage have died from carbon monoxide poisoning.

      Citation needed.
    • by Agripa ( 139780 )

      My solution to make the best of a bad situation is only to have manual transmission cars. I have read about too many incidents where automatic transmissions, whether true automatic transmissions or electronic manual transmissions, fail in unsafe ways preventing control by the operator.

      At least with a manual clutch and manual shift, both have to fail to prevent disengaging the drive wheels.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    It's a manually operated fail-safe device to disconnect the engine from the transmission (and the wheels).

    I've got one - you should get one on your next car.

    Who am I kidding, almost nobody (in the USA) knows how to drive stick shift these days.

    • by sjames ( 1099 )

      And a lot more who CAN just don't want to. It's been a while since a human driver could actually make better shifting decisions than an automatic other than when racing.

  • But the brakes are designed to overpower the engine and the vehicles could still be stopped...

    Very reassuring although this must hurt braking distance a bit...

  • Simple (Score:5, Funny)

    by PPH ( 736903 ) on Saturday May 26, 2018 @07:34PM (#56680254)

    The control is on the center console user interface. Just navigate to:

    Systems | Controls | Extended Functions | Speed | Basic | Cruise Mode

    and select 'OFF'. When Clippy pops up and asks "It appears that you are attempting to take manual control of your vehicle. This is not recommended. Do you want assistance?" Select 'NO' (Do not want assistance) and then 'YES' (take manual control).

    Accept the liability terms on the popup page by clicking 'I Accept'. And now you can drive your car.

  • Just traded in one Jeep Cherokee that would die in traffic and refuse to start. No fucks were given by Chrysler to fix it. The other has had continuous recalls since I bought it.

    • Just traded in one Jeep Cherokee that would die in traffic and refuse to start. No fucks were given by Chrysler to fix it. The other has had continuous recalls since I bought it.

      FCA is circling the bowl. RAM Promaster vans are shit (you can get one with half the miles of a sprinter for half the money), literally everything they make is horribly unreliable, the only vehicles keeping them afloat are the most expensive muscle cars and Jeeps. And they're screwing with the Jeeps. They have these batshit crazy shifter handles and whatnot when they actually used to make cars with a better yet still odd interface back in the sixties, with push-button transmissions. When you selected a gear

  • In my day Chryslers would just shut off and lock the steering wheel when they shorted. Seriously though, Chryslers are shit.
  • I had a car once where the throttle would got stuck from time to time. Put it in neutral, hit the breaks, turn the car off (and fix the throttle sticking). If I had cruise control that got stuck, that's the first thing I would think of.
  • On a 1999 Jeep. Cruise got stuck, nothing would clear it. Once I got it stopped, I clipped the cruise control throttle cable under the hood.
    Scary stuff.

  • A couple of years ago the news here went on full of the story of a man calling the police while on the highway in order to have the next toll barrage cleared for him, because his cruise control was locked on full speed.
    There was a lot of roar in the news, but little reality in the end, as obviously on any vehicle the brake is far more powerful than the motor (specially when on high gear), so the guy could trivially stop pressing the brake pedal.

    But, he was an old man, and definitely not prepared to the unus

  • Had any of these incidents happened while driving a manual car, all one would have to do is depress the clutch and move the stick shift into a neutral position. The engine may still be racing and it may cook itself, but at least you won't continue to be propelled forward at a high rate of speed. But then, as wallE showed, we'd rather be coddled to death.
  • AFAIK, cruise control works because there's an extra throttle cable leading to the servo. So ya' just wire an este's model rocket igniter and an M-80 next it. Put a nice little switch on the dash. Anything goes wrong, blow that sucker. Just kidding of course.

I've finally learned what "upward compatible" means. It means we get to keep all our old mistakes. -- Dennie van Tassel

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