Almost 67,000 older Dodge and Mitsubishi pickups were recalled to fix a faulty clutch switch that let a child start a truck and run over another.
The malfunction caused the fatal accident when a “young child” was able to start a Ram 3500 diesel pickup without pushing the clutch pedal, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The truck moved forward, killing the other child, NHTSA said.
This adds to what has been a record year for automobile recalls, with more than 60 million vehicles called back in the U.S., highlighted by General Motors Co.’s faulty ignition switches and Takata Corp.’s air bags. The previous record was 30.8 million set in 2004. NHTSA has been pressuring automakers to fix cars more quickly when evidence of a flaw is discovered, using subpoena power and the threat of $35 million fines as motivation.
The recall is for 66,819 Dodge Dakota, Dodge Ram 1500, 2500, 3500 and Mitsubishi Raider pickups with manual transmissions from model years 2006 and 2007. The Raider, which Chrysler built for Mitsubishi, and Dakota are no longer in production.
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FCA US LLC, the automaker formerly known as Chrysler Group LLC, said it will start notifying owners Feb. 13 and replace the switches for free. Until then, they recommend drivers start the truck with the parking brake engaged and the gear shifter in neutral.
FCA US, based in Auburn Hills, Michigan, is a unit of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV. The group, which also recalled more than 900,000 older Dodge Ram pickups, Jeep Commanders and Jeep Grand Cherokees for other defects, declined to elaborate on the fatal accident.
Fiat Chrysler fell 1 percent to $11.76 at 2:22 p.m. New York time.