EA91-O10Page 1ENGINEERING ANALYSISCLOSINGREPORTSUBJECT: ALLEGED MALFUNCTION OF AUTOMATIC TRANSMISSIONPARKLOCKSYSTEM IN 1981-1990 CHRYSLER MOTORSCORPORATION VEHICLESEA No.: EA91-O10Date Opened: 10-DEC-90 Date Closed:DEC3
BASIS:TheCenter for AutoSafety (CAS)petitioned the NationalHighwayTrafficSafetyAdministration(NHTSA)byletter datedJuly16, 1990,to initiateinvestigation ofalleged malfunctions of the park lock systems installed in certain 1981 through 1989model year vehicles producedbytheChryslerMotorsCorporation. The vehicles wereidentified as frontwheeldrivemodels equipped with automatic transmissions andsteeringcolumnmountedgearshiftlevers. The petition(DP90-014)alleged that suchmalfunctions allow the automatic transmissions toinadvertentlyshiftfrom the"Park"position into Reversegear, resultingin incidents in which unattended vehiclesrollaway. The petition claimed that 76 such incidentshad resulted inpropertydamage andinjuryaccidents,as well as two fatalities.An analysis of information relevant to the petition wasconductedand,the petition wasgranted. The subjectEAwas initiatedon December10, 1990,to evaulate the mattermore thoroughly. In response to the petitioner's request datedJuly31, 1990,theinvestigation was expanded to includethe 1990 minivan models.THE ALLEGED DEFECT:The common description of the alleged defectbyconsumers is that the". . . transmissionjumpedoutof Park and went into Reverse. . .."Thisinvestigation,however,considers the alleged defect from a broaderperspective inorder to establish whether such a defect existsinfact,and ifso,to determine itsprecise nature and cause. In thisEA,the alleged defect istherefore defined as failureof the automatictransmission toproperlyengageor lock in the"Park"position whenshifted to that positionbythe vehicleoperator.