September 30, 2019 — A Chrysler active head restraint investigation will determine if 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge Durango SUVs should be recalled to fix the headrests.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 128 Durango and Grand Cherokee customers have complained their active head restraints deployed without crashes or rear impact events. Safety regulators say 13 reports allege injuries involving headaches, soft tissue injuries, nausea, vomiting and disorientation.
The 2014 Dodge Durangos and 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokees are equipped with headrests that are supposed to prevent whiplash injuries in rear-end collisions.
The Fiat Chrysler (FCA) active head restraint quickly moves forward to limit head motion to reduce injuries to the neck. The system is spring operated and controlled by the airbag control unit, but customers claim cheap plastic inside the head restraints fail and trigger the devices.
Jeep and Dodge customers report the head restraints can deploy on either front seats and the problem can occur even when the vehicles are unoccupied, but about two-thirds of the incidents have occurred while the vehicles were in motion.
Allegedly the only way to fix the problem is to disassemble the seat and replace the entire active head restraint, a job that can cost about $800.
Based on customer complaints, the smack to the head is a serious safety hazard because of the distraction caused by the event.
"The drivers side active headrest deployed without a collision. I was driving in a parking lot and heard a lot sound and was hit in the back of head by an unknown object at the time. After stopping and composing myself and checking myself out as I thought I may have been shot."
"My passenger side active headrest deployed while I was driving my vehicle down a local street in lincroft, NJ. The vehicle had approximately 75K miles at the time. The vehicle was not in an accident and upon visual inspection the plastic part that latches into the fixture snapped off leaving the headrest permanently damaged."
"While driving my 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee, my drivers side head rest 'exploded' and hit me in the back of the head. The force pushed me forward and I immediately thought I was rear-ended. I ended up with a severe headache and sore neck. I can see this defect easily causing an accident."
Although the headrest investigation includes only 2014 Durangos and Grand Cherokees, NHTSA is aware of identical complaints about additional Grand Cherokee and Durango model years and other FCA models. Those similar reports will be evaluated during this investigation.
In addition to the government examination, the automaker has faced a class action lawsuit over the head restraints and recently escaped the action filed in Florida on behalf of Dodge Avenger and Jeep Cherokee owners