CAS says nerve center defect behind Chrysler problems

Auto group says nerve center defect behind Chrysler problems (Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)

By Jeff Pegues

Some Chrysler owners say their car has a mind of its own. Some have been recording video of their cars going haywire.

“People must think I’m crazy. Windshield wipers on by themselves; car’s possessed,” one driver says in a video posted on Youtube.

The Center for Auto Safety, or CAS, believes the problem is a defect in the “Totally Integrated Power Module,” or TIPM.

The component is a vehicle’s electronic nerve center or fuse box, and if it malfunctions, CAS says it can lead to airbag non-deployment, vehicle shutdowns, unintended acceleration and fires. The TIPM is in millions of Chrysler vehicles manufactured between 2007 and 2014.

CAS Executive Director Clarence Ditlow is asking the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to investigate.

“Chrysler has submitted at least 20 death claims on components that are related to this Totally Integrated Power Module or the TIPM,” Ditlow said. “We’re seeking the underlying documents to see if in fact it was the TIPM that caused the fatality.”

Chrysler says it is “unaware of any related fatalities” and that its “vehicles meet or exceed all applicable safety standards.”

However, the company also says it is “actively investigating customer complaints and retrieving components from the field for closer analysis.”

The automaker has already conducted smaller TIPM recalls in 2007 and 2012. The part failed in Julie Lumbert’s 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee. It cost her more than $25,000 to repair.

“It burned out the fuel pump, and then it also then ruined the starter so I had to have all three things replaced before the car would start, again,” Lumbert said.

NHTSA says it is reviewing the allegations and will take appropriate action as necessary. Earlier this year some members of Congress accused the agency of not moving fast enough to force General Motors to address the faulty ignition switch problem that the company has now linked to at least 13 deaths.