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Chrysler to Retrofit Older Jeep Cherokee and Grand Cherokee Vehicles with'Brake-Park' Shift Interlock

30 April 1997

Chrysler Corporation to Offer Free 'Brake-Park' Shift Interlock Retrofit On Older Jeep Cherokee and Grand Cherokee Vehicles

    AUBURN HILLS, Mich., April 29 -- To reduce the possibility of
pedal misapplication errors by drivers unfamiliar with the vehicles, Chrysler
Corporation will offer the installation of a "brake-park" shift
interlock retrofit package to owners of 1984-1995 Jeep(R) Cherokee and
1993-1995 Grand Cherokee vehicles.
    The retrofit is in response to reports of "unintended or sudden
acceleration" when the vehicle transmission is shifted out of "Park" into
"Reverse" or "Drive."  Chrysler has concluded that "pedal misapplication" --
the driver mistakenly stepping on the accelerator pedal rather than the brake
pedal -- is the cause of these incidents.
    "Safety and customer satisfaction are extremely important at Chrysler,"
said Susan M. Cischke, Executive Director-Vehicle Certification, Compliance
and Safety Affairs.  "We have carefully examined 'unintended acceleration'
reports and our investigations have never revealed any evidence of throttle,
electronic engine management system or brake system malfunction.  In fact, all
evidence we have uncovered points precisely to pedal misapplication.
    "In many of the reported incidents," Cischke said, "these drivers
sincerely believe that their foot was pressing the brake pedal despite the
fact that there is often physical evidence to the contrary and eyewitness
accounts of no visible brake lights.
    "Nevertheless," she said, "we have a device called a 'brake-park' shift
interlock on 1996 and 1997 model Cherokees and Grand Cherokees that in some
instances can help prevent people from making this error and we will be
offering it at no charge to all owners of older model Cherokees and Grand
    The interlock requires the driver to depress the brake pedal before the
transmission can be shifted out of Park.  Chrysler has concluded that the
device is helpful in avoiding "Park-to-Drive" or "Park-to-Reverse" pedal
misapplication as experienced in a relatively small number of incidents
involving Jeep Cherokee and Grand Cherokee models.
    Cischke added that the pedal misapplication error is usually made by
someone who is not familiar with a vehicle and who does not take the time to
properly familiarize himself or herself with the vehicle's controls.  "It may
be a valet or parking attendant, a friend or another member of the owner's
family," she said.  "That is why Chrysler will encourage owners to have the
interlock installed to help prevent potential errors even if they are familiar
with their vehicle and are not concerned that they may make this mistake."
    Almost all vehicles have "unintended acceleration" claims filed with the
manufacturers or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
every year.  In fact, other vehicles have had similar or higher numbers of
complaints than the Jeep Cherokee and Grand Cherokee.  Manufacturers of those
other vehicles and a NHTSA study have consistently concluded that pedal
misapplication is the cause, not any mechanical defect.  Chrysler agrees with
that conclusion.
    Cherokee and Grand Cherokee owners will be alerted in late summer of the
retrofit offer after all engineering tests of the various systems are complete
and sufficient parts are available for dealers nationwide.  Owners should not
bring in their vehicle for the retrofit until they receive an Owner
Notification Form.
    "In the meantime," said Cischke, "owners and other drivers can avoid these
pedal misapplication errors, no matter how rare, by always being sure to place
their foot on the brake when shifting into 'Drive' or 'Reverse.'"

SOURCE  Chrysler Corporation