FCA US to update software of its nine-speed automatic transmission

Article by Andrew Christian, on February 4, 2015

Fiat Chrysler will send a notice to owners of MY2014-2015 Cherokees and some MY2015 Chrysler 200s – all with 2.4-liter inline-four engines -- in mid-to-late February to update the software for the vehicles’ nine-speed automatic transmission. The reflash is meant to “keep the vehicle performing as intended” and to prevent durability issues from occurring in the future.

The Cherokee has been a subject of consumer complaints on the safercar.gov Web site over issues like hard shifts, lunging, unexpected disengagement of the transmission or repeated illumination of malfunction lights. The reflash could also be now availed at dealerships by consumer request.

FCA had to delay the Cherokee's launch by three months to address the software's troublesome coordination of the engine and the disconnecting all-wheel-drive system. FCA first introduced the nine-speed transmission for front-wheel-drive vehicles on the MY2014 Cherokee.

It was then installed to the redesigned 200 and the new Jeep Renegade and Fiat 500X. Fiat Chrysler chief executive Sergio Marchionne remarked that the transmission lacked "mature" software when it was rolled out in 2013.

Around 120 of the more than 230 complaints about the MY2014 Cherokee listed on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's database, involved the SUV's powertrain and date from shortly after it was launched in October 2013 until January 2015.

The complaints, however, did not result in crashes, injuries or deaths. FCA plans to install the nine-speed automatic transmission in almost all of its fwd-based vehicles, including the 2015 Renegade and 500X.

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