The automobile ignition switch problem is back “on.”
Chrysler is recalling 349,442 of its 2008 Dodge Charger sedans, Dodge Magnum station wagons, Chrysler 300 sedans, Jeep Commander and Jeep Grand Cherokee SUVs.
The problem: Faulty ignition switches that may allow keys to switch out of “on” into “accessory” or “off,” disabling the vehicles’ engines, braking, steering and possibly air bags.
This is similar to the problem that has plagued General Motors -- a problem linked to at least 19 deaths and responsible for hundreds of millions of dollars in fines, settlements and other costs to the Detroit giant.
Chrysler said it is aware of one accident related to the problem, but is not aware of any injuries or fatalities.
Chrysler’s announcement brings the year’s total recall number to well over 46 million vehicles -- a new record, and far above the earlier high of 30.8 million vehicles recalled in 2004.
Already this year Chrysler has recalled more than 1 million vehicles, including Jeeps with wiring problems and faulty air bags. In July, the company recalled 800,000 Jeeps made between 2005 and 2007 for faulty ignition switches with problems similar to the ones reported today.
GM at one point said heavy key rings could exacerbate the ignition switch issue. Chrysler has now said the same: “As a supplementary precaution, customers are advised to detach their ignition keys from key rings and other keys,” the company said.
Customers whose vehicles are included in the recall will be contacted. Chrysler estimated that almost 300,000 of the vehicles were sold in the U.S., with the remainder sold in Canada, Mexico and elsewhere.