Drag Link Separation Can Cause Complete Loss of Steering Control in Recalled Ram Vehicles
at least two incidents have been reported in which steering was lost, causing injury
Chrysler is recalling some 2013-2017 Ram 3500 and 2014-2017 Ram 3500 Chassis Cab and Ram 2500 vehicles. The outboard steering linkage jam nut may loosen, allowing one end of the drag link, a part that allows alignment adjustment, to unexpectedly separate. Once separation occurs, turning the steering wheel has no effect and there is no way for the driver to control or maintain the direction of the vehicle.
What's the problem?
The recall stems from an investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) from November 2018. In it, ODI identified two complaints alleging the steering system failed on 2015 and 2016 Ram 2500s. Both vehicles were equipped with four wheel drive, and both failures occurred while the vehicle was in operation. The failures were allegedly due to the separation of the drag link, a steering linkage that connects between the right front steering knuckle and the pitman arm on the steering box output shaft. The separation occurred at a threaded coupler within the drag link intended to be used for adjusting the length of the linkage during alignment of the steering system.
The suspect period began at Saltillo Truck Assembly Plant (“STAP”) on February 5, 2013, when 2013 MY Ram 3500 pickup truck production began with the drag link
assembly, through August 2, 2017, the end of 2017 MY production. 35,004 2014-2017 MY Ram 3500 chassis cab trucks are affected.
The suspect period began at Saltillo Truck Assembly Plant (“STAP”) on June 4, 2013, when 2014 MY Ram 2500 pickup truck production began with the drag link assembly, through August 2, 2017, the end of 2017 MY production. 370,622 2014-2017 MY Ram 2500 pickup trucks are affected.
Similar vehicles equipped with 4x2 style steering systems are not affected by this recall.
FCA US will conduct a Voluntary Safety Recall on all affected vehicles.
FCA US has a longstanding policy and practice of reimbursing owners who have incurred the cost of repairing a problem that subsequently becomes the subject of a field action. To ensure consistency, FCA US, as part of the owner letter, will request that customers send the original receipt and/or other adequate proof of payment to the company for confirmation of the expense.
The original part number is 68369907AA. The replacement part number is 68338342AB and features a more robust clamp style feature.
What happens next?
Chrysler will notify owners and dealers will check the steering linkage jam nut tightness. If the torque values meet requirement, the nuts will be welded to the adjuster sleeve. If the torque values do not meet requirement, the drag link assembly will be replaced. The recall is expected to begin on March 16, 2019.
Owners may contact Chrysler customer service at (800) 853-1403. Chrysler's number for this recall is V06.