We all know minivans bring out a driver’s inner beast. Here at TTAC, hardly a day goes by where we’re not discussing which minivan is best suited for an impromptu spin around the track. Seriously.
However, if exploring the limits of your minivan’s handling abilities tops your short list of things to do today, Chrysler Pacifica drivers had best hold off — at least if you’ve got a crowded backseat. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles doesn’t want owners driving aggressively until they’ve taken their van in for a voluntary recall.
The automaker claims 47,927 2017 and 2018 Pacificas equipped with the optional three-person second-row seat contain a flaw that can cause the left outboard seatbelt to become unbuckled during very spirited driving. The culprit? The center seat seatbelt buckle.
“This defect may, in certain cases, result in a compromised safety system for a buckled left second-row passenger,” FCA stated in its recall. “In certain passenger seating and vehicle situations, the second-row center seating position seat belt buckle could cause the left outboard seat belt to become unlatched.”
The situation? During “extreme handling manoeuvres.”
Seven-passenger Pacificas aren’t affected by the issue for obvious reasons. FCA claims the affected models were built from the beginning of production until August 24th of this year. The remedy involves installing a shortened second-row buckle.
While it’s not likely an occurrence a Pacifica driver is likely to see, it would occur at a moment when a passenger will really need that seatbelt. FCA engineers first noticed the issue on May 12th, when a water ballast dummy broke free during testing. The company’s U.S. Vehicle Dynamics Group staged a repeat of the test, and the dummy again found itself unharnessed.
According to FCA, the buckles shouldn’t pose an issue during regular, or even spirited, driving. Speaking to the Windsor Star, FCA media relations manager Eric Mayne said, “sporty driving does not describe the extreme nature of the manoeuvre that was performed for this to happen.”
This actually isn’t the first seatbelt-related recall for the Pacifica. Last year, FCA recalled a small number of early production models after discovering that the “center overhead seat belt stow clip may fracture and prevent use of the seat belt in the third-row and/or second-row center passenger seat.”
[Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]