OTTAWA – Transport Canada says it has identified a “serious safety issue” involving the power steering systems on more than 295,000 vehicles sold by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.
A statement issued Wednesday by federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau says the department has received more than 100 consumer complaints involving the failure of a power steering return hose.
Following an investigation, Transport Canada said the loss of power steering assist, along with the potential for a vehicle fire, was a serious safety issue and it notified the manufacturer.
Affected models are the 2009-2016 Dodge Journey, the 2011-2013 Chrysler 200, the 2007-2010 Chrysler Sebring and the 2007-2013 Dodge Avenger.
Most complaints involve the Dodge Journey and involve more than 187,000 vehicles.
But because the other models — a total of more than 108,000 vehicles — have the same technical issues, Transport Canada said it included them in the preliminary determination in the interest of safety.
In a posting on its website, Transport Canada said FCA had found that power steering return hoses could fail on certain vehicles when operated in extremely cold climates, causing a hydraulic fluid leak “in close proximity to the exhaust system” and loss of power steering assist.
“FCA maintains that a failure of a power steering return hose on the subject vehicles does not represent a safety risk,” the posting says.
Transport Canada said that of the 107 consumer complaints it received about the problem, it is aware of two cases where drivers allegedly lost control and three others where smoke was observed.
“To date, Transport Canada is not aware of any major injuries or fatalities related to a failure of the described components,” it added.
FCA spokesman Eric Mayne confirmed in an email that the company had received the notification and was preparing its response.
“Customer safety is paramount at FCA Canada,” Mayne said, adding that “all our vehicles meet or exceed federal safety standards.”
He said customers with concerns can contact FCA’s call centre at 1-800-465-2001.
Garneau says his department is seeking public feedback on the issue and will make a determination on whether FCA Canada has to issue a notice of safety defect to owners.
Under changes to the Motor Vehicle Safety Act that came into force last year, the transport minister has the power to order companies to issue a recall notice. Previously, only companies could decide to issue a recall notice.