Ram Trucks: Hackability, Airbag Problems and the Death Wobble

Ram pickup truck

There is a lot of love out there in Oklahoma and across the nation for Ram trucks. The popular pickup trucks are branded as “real trucks” for “real truck drivers.” Ram’s website boasts that “Ram is the fastest growing truck brand in America.”

The Ram brand has managed to keep its luster despite numerous recalls in the last two years. However, three more recalls over the weekend may cause even the most die-hard fans to question their beloved Ram trucks. Our truck accidents attorneys discuss.

Friday: Recall of “Hackable Automobiles”

It sounds like something out of a sci-fi movie, but it is here and now: vehicles that can be commandeered remotely via the Internet.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles announced Friday that it is voluntarily recalling 1.4 million U.S. cars and trucks, including several models of Ram pickup trucks, Jeep Cherokees and other vehicles (full list below).

The recall was prompted by two security researcher/hackers who revealed earlier this month that they were able to hack into a Jeep Cherokee SUV from 10 miles away via the Internet and take control of the vehicle’s engine, steering wheel and brakes.

The hackers accessed the vehicle’s controls through Chrysler Uconnect, a dashboard system that provides built-in Internet connectivity by making the vehicles wi-fi hot-spots. The system provides GPS, emergency assistance, streaming TV and radio, and voice-activated cell phone calling.

A bit frightening, isn’t it, to think of hackers taking control of moving vehicles! So far no accidents or injuries have been reported, so I guess that makes heroes of the security hackers who brought the problem to light.

The recall instructs owners to download software from the automaker’s website or receive the software on a flash drive and install it in the vehicle’s dashboard port. Feel better now?

Fiat Chrysler also said it has already made the vehicles unhackable by adding tougher security measures on the Sprint network that is used to provide Internet connectivity to the vehicles.

safety first two hands on wheel

A bill was introduced in Congress last week which would set minimum standards for the cybersecurity of cars and trucks.

Here are the vehicles included in the recall:

• Ram 1500, 2500, 3500 pickups (2013-2015)
• Ram 3500, 4500, 5500 Chassis Cabs (2013-2015)
• Dodge Viper specialty vehicles (2013-2015)
• Jeep Grand Cherokee and Cherokee SUVs (2014-2015)
• Dodge Durango SUVs (2014-2015)
• Chrysler 200, Chrysler 300, Dodge Charger sedans (2015)
• Dodge Challenger sports coupes (2015)

You can check if your vehicle is included by plugging your VIN into this Fiat Chrysler website.

Saturday: Recall of Airbag Problem

On Saturday, while Ram truck owners were pondering the possibility of their vehicles being hijacked by hackers, Fiat Chrysler announced another recall affecting more than 1 million U.S. Ram trucks.

The focus of that recall is a steering wheel wiring harness that rubs against a spring in the air bag module. The friction can cause an electrical short, resulting in an unexpected airbag deployment. You guessed it, the problem would be most likely to happen while you are driving down the highway.

The recall involves Ram 4500 and 5500 trucks (2012-2015 models). Dealers will fix the problem by repairing the steering wheel wiring harness and adding a protective cap to the air bag spring.

Also Saturday: Recall of Faulty Airbag Impact Sensors

Meanwhile, on the same day — that’s right, the third recall involving Ram trucks in about 24 hours — more than 660,000 Fiat Chrysler vehicles in the U.S. were recalled to fix faulty airbag impact sensors. The faulty sensors could cause airbags to deploy unexpectedly.

The recall includes Ram 1500, 2500 and 3500 pickup trucks (2013-2015 models). Fiat Chrysler said the recall comes after receiving customer complaints of airbag deployments being triggered by truck doors being slammed shut. Two minor injuries have been reported, but no accidents.

Previous Recalls

Fiat Chrysler has had 23 recalls involving 11 million vehicles in the last two years. The most notorious of them is the “Death Wobble” defect that led to the recall in 2013 of more than 1 million Ram trucks.

Some Ram drivers reported experiencing a violent front-end shaking when their trucks hit a bump or pothole at high speeds. The shaking was so bad that drivers feared losing control. The culprit was identified as a defective steering-system tie rod. To make matters worse, some of the replacement parts used in repairs ended up being defective as well.

Drivers have reported crashes, rollovers and ejections due to the problem. At least one death has been blamed on the defect. A 2014 class action alleges that Fiat Chrysler knew about the “death wobble” several years before it announced the recall.

Beginning with the 2013 models, the trucks have been redesigned in such a way to apparently eliminate the problem.

Do You Need Legal Consultation?

Evidently Ram truck owners love their trucks so much that nothing phases them. If the 2013 “death wobble” didn’t bother them, maybe this year’s hackability and airbag problems will not alarm them either.

However, a recall is always driven by safety concerns. If you have experienced an accident that resulted in injury, death or property loss — especially if the vehicle was subject to a recall, which means the vehicle was defective and unsafe — you may be entitled to compensation for your harms and losses.

Hasbrook & Hasbrook can help you sort through your situation to determine if you have a legal claim. Your consultation with us is free. If we take your case, we will do so on a contingency basis, which means you only pay if the case is successful in obtaining the compensation you deserve. If you have suffered a severe injury due to a truck accident, give us a call at 866-416-4737 or send us a message by email (cth@hasbrooklaw.com) or by using our website contact form: Contact Us.