Is Chrysler Hiding a Major Defect in its Power Modules?

By Greg Webb, November 10, 2014

Car windows rolling down, radios coming on, headlights flashing on in an unoccupied car, or going off while driving at night—it sounds more like Halloween pranks than a serious problem that Chrysler has been ignoring, or denying.  For several years now, Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep owners have been reporting these bizarre situations. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has received 240 complaints from vehicle owners who attribute the problem to the power module.

In a confusing sequence of events, this past August the Center for Auto Safety petitioned NHTSA to open a formal investigation into Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep SUVs, pickup trucks and minivans with alleged failures of the Totally Integrated Power Module, specifically the TIPM-7 version.

In September Chrysler recalled some Dodge Durangos and Jeep Cherokees claiming there was a problem in the module but asserting the power module itself was not the problem.

It seems that part of what is intensifying the concern from auto safety advocates and the government is the Chrysler response to a 2013 class action lawsuit. The lawsuit, brought by drivers in several states, states that the automotive manufacturer has known about the problem for years and repeatedly concealed the defect. All of Chrysler’s responses have been sealed, barring the public from seeing any answers to questions addressed in the lawsuit. When a request was made that Chrysler issue a public warning about the possible defect, Chrysler’s responses were also sealed. Chrysler has not given a reason for sealing the documents and requested a dismissal of the lawsuit, which was denied in August.

On October 23, 2014, The Center for Auto Safety filed a motion asking the court to unseal the records, stating “The Center has a strong interest in the sealed court records in this lawsuit: It has received over one hundred fifty complaints about a dangerous malfunction in the Totally Integrated Power Module (“TIPM”) of certain Chrysler models – the defect alleged in the complaint; it has petitioned the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to investigate these reports; and it plans to use evidence related to the defect to evaluate any possible safety risk, inform NHTSA, and educate the public. The documents filed in conjunction with the parties’ briefing on the plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction could aid the Center in its efforts to investigate whether certain Chrysler vehicles do, indeed, contain a defective TIPM, and, if so, educate the public and the government about the safety risks such a defect might pose. “

On Monday, October 27, NHTSA said it would review a request to open a formal investigation into the 4.9 million Chrysler vehicles, model years 2007-2014, over ‘corrupt electrical systems’.  Once the review is conducted, NHTSA will then decide whether to open a formal investigation, which could lead to vehicle recalls.

The public remains in the dark while the various parties try to get answers and action on yet another case of automotive manufacturers failing to do their job. If you drive a Chrysler vehicle and want more information on the Totally Integrated Power Modules, TIPM, affected Chrysler vehicles, and the TIPM timeline, read this: “Defective TIPMs Lead to Power Problems”.