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Washington – Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is warning owners of nearly 5 million late-model vehicles not to use cruise control because it can stick in the "on" position.

In a recall of  4.8 million Fiat Chrysler cars and trucks announced Friday, the automaker said a short-circuit can cause a malfunction of the cruise control that can prevent a set highway speed from being overridden by the control's "off" switch or by braking. Fiat Chrysler says the brakes are strong enough to overpower the engine and allow drivers to pull over by the side of the road. Shifting the vehicle to "neutral' would also disengage the engine and allow drivers to pull over. Shifting into "park" after stopping would then turn cruise control off.

The automaker said it is unaware of any related injuries or accidents involving the affected vehicles.

Fiat Chrysler will offer a free software upgrade to remedy the problem.

The recall includes 15 recent models:

  • 2015-17 Chrysler 200 sedan
  • 2014-18 Chrysler 300 sedan
  • 2017-18 Chrysler Pacifica minivan
  • 2015-18 Dodge Challenger coupe
  • 2014-18 Dodge Charger sedan
  • 2014-18 Dodge Journey CUV
  • 2014-18 Dodge Durango SUV
  • 2014-18 Jeep Cherokee SUV
  • 2014-18 Jeep Grand Cherokee SUV
  • 2018 Jeep Wrangler
  • 2014-19 Ram 1500 pickup
  • 2014-18 Ram 2500 pickup
  • 2014-18 Ram 3500 pickup
  • 2014-18 Ram 3500 cab chassis
  • 2014-18 Ram 4500/5500 cab chassis

In a complaint that was filed to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in early May, a driver of a rented 2017 Dodge Journey SUV in Kansas complained about being unable to turn cruise control off while traveling at 70 miles per hour.

"While driving at (approximately) 70 mph with the cruise control engaged, the windshield wipers came on by themselves, all dial instruments went to zero and all the electronic alerts (oil, over heat, tire pressure, etc.) enunciated," the unnamed driver wrote. "The throttle remained locked at the cruise setting and would not disengage with activation of the brakes or cruise control button."

The complaining driver was able to stop the car from cruising at top highway speed by applying the brakes.

"A weaker person would most certainly been involved in a bad accident," the driver wrote. "I was concerned the car would catch on fire as the brakes smoked significantly."

NHTSA said Friday it "strongly encourages vehicle owners to follow" the warning to stop using cruise control until repairs are made.

klaing@detroitnews.com

(202) 662-8735

Twitter: @Keith_Laing

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