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NHTSA closes safety probe into Dodge, Chrysler minivans

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WASHINGTON — NHTSA has ended a safety probe into 2016 Dodge Caravan and Chrysler Town & Country minivans but isn’t ruling out that a potential safety defect exists, according to a report released Tuesday.

NHTSA’s Office of Defects Investigation launched the probe in July 2021 to investigate more than 300 consumer complaints alleging one or both of the sliding doors on those vehicles could not be opened either by using the mechanical handle or electronic remote switches or controls.

The investigation, formally closed Friday, covered an estimated 233,084 vehicles in the U.S., with complaints totaling 439, according to the report.

In 2016, Chrysler — part of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and now under Stellantis — issued a technical service bulletin to its dealership network, instructing technicians to replace one or both of the sliding door lock actuators when vehicle owners described an issue with the locks not functioning or “emitting a loud buzzing noise” during the locking or unlocking process, according to federal investigators.

The automaker also approved a warranty extension for 15 years, or 150,000 miles from the vehicle’s in-service date, for sliding door actuators on vehicles built between May 1, 2015, and Jan. 9, 2017.

NHTSA’s analysis found that the majority — 96 percent — of sliding door failures occurred before 2020, when the affected vehicles had approximately four years in service, and that most of them are now past the age when failures typically occur.

The agency said it has not identified any crashes or injuries related to the issue and will continue to monitor complaints.

“The closing of this investigation does not constitute a finding by NHTSA that a safety-related defect does not exist, and the agency reserves the right to take additional action if warranted by new circumstances,” the report states.

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