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FCA faces NHTSA investigation into Ram 2500 steering recall

The agency is apparently not satisfied with FCA's failure to determine a root cause.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has been subject to yet another National Highway Traffic Safety Administration investigation, this time focusing on a Ram 2500/3500 steering-failure recall.

In response to an earlier NHTSA defect investigation, FCA in January recalled nearly 574,000 pickups to fix the drag link that connects between the right front steering knuckle and the pitman arm on the steering box output shaft. Separation of the drag link had been associated with 48 incidents alleging completely loss of steering control, including 13 accidents and one injury.

The initial inquiry focused on two similar drag-link designs used for 4x2 and 4x4 configurations. FCA chose to only recall the 4x4 variant, claiming there were no reports of separation with the 4x2 style. The company did acknowledge three reports of loosening jam nuts on the 4x2 trucks, but argued that loosening would provide an obvious warning to drivers before experiencing complete separation and subsequent loss of control.

The NHTSA is apparently taking issue with FCA's decision to only recall 4x4 trucks despite admitting that it had not fully established the root cause of failures, which left uncertainty surrounding the company's reasoning for not recalling the 4x2 trucks despite receiving several reports of loose jam nuts.

The agency will now orchestrate a more thorough root-cause analysis to determine if the 4x2 drag link is potentially susceptible to the same failures. Investigators will also be evaluating the long-term suitability of FCA's fix, which involves welding the nuts to the adjuster sleeve.

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