Most car problems are relatively subtle. They start out as subtle issues, like a sticky brake pedal or a car that’s slow to accelerate. Even once most problems cause a vehicle to break down, the actual issue is rarely visible until you pop the hood or check underneath the car. That’s not the case with Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans.
According to a recent class-action lawsuit, Chrysler Pacifica plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) are prone to fires and explosions. While Fiat Chrysler issued a recall in February of this year, class-action plaintiffs allege that the announcement was unclear about why vehicles were being recalled. The plaintiffs claim that this put them in danger and left them with dangerous cars to drive, park inside, or otherwise use normally.
If there was any kind of car that should be designed for safety, it’s a minivan. If you’ve bought a Pacifica Hybrid to transport your family, it’s potentially putting your home and loved ones at risk. Here’s what you need to know about the Pacifica recall, the issues that triggered it, and how to spot and react if your car is a fire risk.
What’s Known About Pacifica Hybrid Recalls
Fiat Chrysler decided to issue a recall of more than 16,000 year model 2018 Pacifica Hybrid minivans in February based on fire risks. Any recall issued because of a fire risk requires special documentation to be submitted to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). According to Fiat Chrysler’s recall documents, the company performed an internal investigation after receiving reports of 12 independent fires among 2018 Pacificas.
According to that investigation, Fiat Chrysler determined that the fires all began while the cars were actively turned off. However, two-thirds of the fires started while the PHEVs were plugged in and charging. As a result, the manufacturer recommended that owners of the cars stop charging them and specifically park them outside and away from flammable structures.
This is not even the only Pacifica PHEV fire recall, though it is the most dangerous. Two years ago, Fiat Chrysler recalled thousands of vehicles after it was discovered that the PHEVs were at risk of fires. The 2020 recall was due to corrosion in the 12-volt batteries that powered systems like radios and interior lights, potentially causing fires even when the cars were turned off. That recall affected thousands of 2017-2020 year model Pacificas.
Reasons for Pacifica Recalls
Most manufacturer recalls involve a clear solution for the problem. For instance, in the 2020 recall, Chrysler was able to install a buffer around the 12-volt batteries to protect them from corrosion and prevent sparks. This fix is sent out to dealerships and car owners to explain how the manufacturer is acting to resolve the problem.
That’s not the case for the Pacifica. Unfortunately for both Chrysler and its PVEH customers, the internal investigation didn’t turn up a specific cause behind the fires. Without a reason, the manufacturer had no way to perform repairs to fix the fire risk.
Chrysler has stated that it will issue a second recall notice to PHEV owners by mail once it has determined the fire risk’s cause and solution. Until then, owners who received the initial recall notices are stuck with vehicles that are dangerous to use and no timeline on when they’ll be safe to use.
So, how long will car owners be stuck waiting? As of April 2022, there is still no remedy available, according to the NHTSA. There’s also no date set for when Chrysler will consider a way to compensate drivers other than looking for a repair. More than 16,000 Pacifica owners in the US remain the owners of useless, unsafe vehicles in the meantime.
Fire Risks and the Chrysler Pacifica
Unlike many car problems, there are no warning signs that your Pacifica might be one of the ones that could catch on fire. The cars appear to run fine until the moment they start burning. Whenever the PHEV is charging or even parked next to something flammable, you’re in danger.
Even if you can supervise your car at all times, it’s not considered safe to charge the hybrids at all. The vehicle’s battery could explode, or flames could spread to your home or nearby structures.
What’s worse is that since the fires start when the car is turned off, it’s unlikely that you’ll notice the flames until the situation is out of hand. Should a fire start overnight while the car is parked in your garage, you could lose your vehicle and your home at the same time.
One positive detail is that no Pacificas have yet caught on fire while in operation. If you have no alternative but to drive one of these vehicles, you’re not likely to be at risk on the road. However, there’s no safe way to recharge the vehicle after using it.
Free Yourself from Pacifica Hybrid Fire Risks
A car that could catch fire or explode even when turned off is a ticking time bomb. You have every right to a vehicle that won’t put you or your loved ones in danger just by existing nearby. The recall process could take months or years before it yields results and makes your car safe to use again.
That’s why you should reach out to an experienced lemon law attorney. Whether you suspect your Chrysler Pacifica is a fire risk or you’ve already suffered a fire, your vehicle may give you grounds for a lemon law claim. Under California lemon laws, you can have your car repaired for dangerous manufacturer flaws or replaced or refunded if the defect isn’t fixable.
The right lawyer will help you understand your options and find the best way to get your car repaired, replaced, or refunded under California law. With complicated cases like the Pacifica, experienced legal assistance can significantly improve your claim’s chances of being honored. Schedule your consultation today to start the process of freeing yourself from a potentially deadly fire risk and lemon.