US agency opens investigation into 1.1 million Ram 1500 pickup trucks

US agency opens investigation into 1.1 million Ram 1500 pickup trucks

By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. auto safety regulators said on Tuesday they are investigating whether 1.1 million older Ram 1500 pickup trucks should be recalled because of power steering loss issues.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has received 380 reports alleging intermittent or complete loss of power steering assistance in 2013-2016 Ram 1500 pickups, including reports of three crashes.

In March 2016, Fiat Chrysler Automotive, now known as Stellantis, recalled 440 vehicles to address possible electrical power steering unit contamination. NHTSA said the complaints indicated similar malfunctions occurred in vehicles outside the recall range.

NHTSA opens a recall query “to determine whether the above recall scope is correct or whether another defect exists.”

Stellantis did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Many complaints to the NHTSA described expensive or dangerous safety issues or very long waiting times for parts. In January, a driver in Florida said the steering wheel of a 2013 Ram 1500 locked up and “won’t turn left or right” and was quoted as having a parts price of more than $2,000.

Another driver was driving a 2014 Ram 1500 at 55 mph on a busy California road in February when their steering wheel broke off and became immobile. Using sheer force, she was able to pass the truck through traffic and to the side of the road. “

Because of a power steering failure, a complaint filed by a 2015 Ram 1500 driver in March said, “contact resulted in a ditch that caused minor damage to the front end of the vehicle.”

(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by John Boyle and Bernadette Baum)

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