The Canadian arm of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) has recalled more than 216,000 of its Ram 1500, 2500 and 3500 pickup trucks to fix a software fault that could prevent airbag deployment in a rollover.
According to an FCA press release, the manufacturer began an investigation into the fault in December 2016 after it was served with a lawsuit in which the plaintiff alleged the truck's airbags failed to deploy in a rollover crash.
FCA's research revealed that in trucks including the 2016 Ram 1500, as well as those sold from 2013 through 2015, a significant underbody impact could trick the airbag module into "thinking" there was a fault in the airbag system and deactivate it until the next time the truck was turned off and re-started.
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The automaker says this is actually a feature behaving badly, not a bug: an airbag deployment suppression provision is programmed into the software to prevent inadvertent activation in the event of a sensor failure.
However, FCA will reprogram the airbag modules to better recognize the difference between a failed sensor and underbody hits that can be a routine occurrence in trucks regularly used off-road. The company is notifying owners of the affected trucks -- which total more than 1.25 million worldwide -- and says recall work will begin in late June.