Perhaps no other style of car is more synonymous with family life in the United States than the minivan. Millions of American families trust their minivans to transport their family safely every single day. Unfortunately, Chrysler Town & Country and Dodge Grand Caravans, two of the most recognizable and popular minivans, may suffer from a dangerous defect affecting the cars’ door lock systems.
Model year 2015 to 2020 Chrysler Town & Country and Dodge Grand Caravans may suffer from the defect. Despite longstanding complaints from owners of the vehicles, Chrysler and Dodge have done nothing to address this issue.
The most common complaint by owners is that the sliding doors are locked shut and that they are unable to open the doors. Customers are unable to unlock the doors either manually or electronically. This could be a terrifying situation should the passengers ever need to exit the vehicle in case of an emergency.
Customers also report situations where they are unable to lock the car doors, despite manually and electronically locking the doors. Customers are leaving their minivan assuming they have locked the doors to the car. But when the customer returns to the car, sometimes hours or days later, they find that they can open the door. They are able to go right up to the car door they thought they locked and open it because the doors never locked properly in the first place.
Customers complain that they are unable to lock or unlock the doors by using their key fob or the electronic switch on the inside of the car. Compounding this problem is the fact that these minivans use automatic sliding doors. So, there is no way to manually lock or unlock the doors. There are also complaints of loud noises coming from the car doors when trying to lock or unlock the doors.
Unfortunately, the defect with Town & Country and Grand Caravans’ door locks usually appears after the warranty period, forcing the owners to pay for the repairs themselves. Owners of the minivans report that these problems occur with anywhere from 24,000 miles to 160,000 miles on their cars. While it seems that most often the defect appears within 40,000 to 70,000 miles.
Although, the biggest concern is the safety issue that the defective door locks create, the repairs necessary to fix the issue are quite costly as well. Customers have reported that the repairs cost anywhere from $800 to $1,495. It appears that these repairs often require replacing the door lock actuator, but it is unclear whether this is the cause of the defect.
Despite the high cost of the repairs, the real concern is the safety issue created by the defective door lock system. The cost of repairs are one thing, but the more pressing issue is the safety hazard the defect creates. As one customer states, imagine the “horrible possibility of an accident and any of my children being trapped inside!” Regardless of age, being unable to open a car door during an emergency is dangerous. Fortunately, it appears that this nightmare scenario has yet to occur and that no injuries have been reported.
Still, owners are being forced to pay for costly repairs or continue operating their car with the possibility that the doors may not open or lock as needed. Some owners report hearing loud noises from the doors when the automatic locks engage while driving, reminding them that something is very wrong with their minivans.
Town & Country and Grand Caravan owners have complained about this issue for several years now, and the problem does not seem to be going away. Many reports relate to the 2016 model year vehicles, but because the problem does not manifest until later in the car’s life the full extent of the problem in newer models remains unseen.
If you have experienced any of these issues it may be worthwhile to contact the attorneys at Cafferty Clobes Meriwether & Sprengel LLP to discuss the problems you have experienced.
The attorneys at CCMS are experienced in handling class actions, and are currently investigating a potential class action lawsuit against Fiat Chrysler Automobiles for the defective door locks on Chrysler Town & Country and Dodge Grand Caravan minivans. CCMS always strives to hold the car manufacturers responsible for the defective products they sell.