The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has launched an investigation focusing on 110,000 Dodge Ram 2500 and 3500 pickups from model years 2004 to 2006. One death has already been reported, according to NHTSA, due to a potential fault with the clutch interlocks on manual-transmission versions of the heavy duty pickup.

According to the report, these trucks can be started without depressing the clutch. There have been three reports so far, and as we mentioned above, one very sad incident seems to have resulted in the death of a child.

"One complaint involved an incident that occurred when a child was able to enter the vehicle and start the ignition without depressing the clutch. The vehicle then moved forward striking another child resulting in a fatality," NHTSA said in the investigation bulletin, which you can view below.

Another person was struck in a similar situation, although there were no injuries reported in that particular incident.

"In keeping with Chrysler Group's longstanding practice, the Company is cooperating fully with this investigation. Chrysler Group vehicles meet or exceed all applicable safety mandates. Customer safety is paramount at Chrysler Group," Chrysler spokesman Nick Cappa told Autoblog via email.

We'll stay with this story, should anything more come up. Scroll down for the official bulletin from NHTSA.
Show full PR text
Date Investigation Opened: MAY 19, 2014
Date Investigation Closed: Open
NHTSA Action Number: PE14013
Component(s): POWER TRAIN

Manufacturer: Chrysler Group LLC
SUMMARY:

ODI has received three vehicle owner complaints (VOQs) alleging incidents of engine crank or start when the clutch was not engaged due to clutch interlock switch failure. The complaints involved 1 model year (MY) 2004 Dodge Ram 2500 truck and 2 MY 2006 Dodge Ram 3500 trucks equipped with manual transmissions. One complaint (VOQ 10566076) involved an incident that occurred when a child was able to enter the vehicle and start the ignition without depressing the clutch. The vehicle then moved forward striking another child resulting in a fatality. A second complaint (10533996) described an incident that occurred when the engine was cranked without the clutch pedal depressed while an individual was standing directly in front of the vehicle performing work under the hood. The clutch interlock failed to prevent the engine from cranking, which resulted in vehicle movement into the pedestrian performing work under the hood. The individual was knocked to the ground, but did not report any injuries. A Preliminary Evaluation has been opened to asses the scope, frequency and safety-related consequences of the alleged defect. VOQs associated with the opening of this investigation are: 10585619, 10533073 and 10533996.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 24 Comments
      JaredN
      • 7 Months Ago
      Christ. There are times when you want to be able to start while in gear.
        SloopJohnB
        • 7 Months Ago
        @JaredN
        Well..you CAN start while in gear….you just can't start with the clutch pedal out.
      yo
      • 7 Months Ago
      blame the parents
      mitytitywhitey
      • 7 Months Ago
      The clutch start lockout is dead on my 2006 Frontier as well. They are just simple switches, with no more complexity than a door lock switch.
        Keef
        • 7 Months Ago
        @mitytitywhitey
        Clutch safety switches don't allow the car to start, though. Or shouldn't. You might be interested to know that pretty much every BMW I've ever driven, modern or otherwise, can be started in neutral without depressing the clutch. Also, if you have no clutch fluid and the safety switch is depressed because the pedal is on the floor you can start the car in gear and drive without a problem. That's how you get a manual transmission home after a clutch system failure. Why aren't they investigating that? I have a feeling the NHTSA is just envious of the NTSB and tries really hard to investigate things and look important when in fact they rarely investigate anything of importance.
          mitytitywhitey
          • 7 Months Ago
          @Keef
          I don't disagree on any particular point. I was just giving my experience that is not specific to Ram trucks. The death of a child is tragic, but honestly kids and large machinery are a bad mix, and this could have happened just as easily in an automatic vehicle.
        SloopJohnB
        • 7 Months Ago
        @mitytitywhitey
        You're lucky it failed closed rather than open. However, I suspect the manufacturer decided it was better it failed and the car was operable rather than failsafe…which is frankly what is should have been designed for in the case of the Ram truck that the kid moved with the starter.
      Phillip
      • 6 Months Ago
      All care's and trucks built before ABOUT 1990 could be started without pushing in the clutch. You have to ask yourself ,what were kids doing in the truck with the keys in the truck and no supervison. Blame the parent NOT THE TRUCK.
      RobG
      • 7 Months Ago
      FWIW.. I own one of these trucks supposedly affected by the recall (a 2005 in my case). My truck has always required me to depress the clutch in order to start it. Maybe it has to do with the fact that mine has the newer G56 manual transmission instead of the older NV5600 version. I dunno.
      Julio B
      • 7 Months Ago
      My 2012 Wrangler is designed to start in gear while on 4LO. It's a safety feature when off-roading so you don't start rolling backwards uncontrolled while on a steep hill. I just can't see how blaming a manufacturer for what is clearly the parents responsibility. How come leaving two kids grab the keys of a huge heavy duty truck and play in and around it unsupervised is not only the fault of the parents. Those parents should be recalled... into jail. Can we start taking responsibility on our actions instead of blaming someone else? The NHTSA employee that dealt with this case should have called Social Services instead of starting an investigation against the manufacturer...
        Kris O.
        • 7 Months Ago
        @Julio B
        My 05 Wrangler is the same way. I will have to check to see if my (1999) or my fathers (2009) 6 speed cummins does the same thing. Kindof a safety issue to not be able to start in gear in 4low. Funny that neither the press release nor article mention if the accidents involved 4wd models. In either case, a kid isn't going to be a reliable source to figure out what is happening and if I work under the hood of my rigs (espically when one of the wheels are up in the air) I always put them into 4wd. And with the second incident, who would start a vehicle with someone under the hood without first pushing in the clutch and making sure it wouldn't roll?
      atomicbri2005
      • 7 Months Ago
      Why did a child have keys and access into a large vehicle like that to begin with???
        Jarda
        • 7 Months Ago
        @atomicbri2005
        because people are not robots
      jonnybimmer
      • 7 Months Ago
      Oh no! A vehicle with a manual transmission acting like every vehicle with a manual transmission before the 80's. How DARE Dodge allow the possibility of their truck starting up when the keys are in the ignition. What's next, the possibility of getting HIT by these things?? Heaven forbid a company produce such a reckless and dangerous death machine! /S
      Hakan Erses
      • 7 Months Ago
      Wait a minute...something is not adding up here. 1. Even if you can start the vehicle without pushing the clutch you still have to push the clutch to put the truck in to gear and then you have to release the clutch just right while giving enough gas at the same time because otherwise you'll end up stalling the damn thing. 2. Say the truck was left in neutral and he started it. He still had to push the clutch and put in to gear and go through all the proper steps to make it move forward, because obviously truck was parked on a flat surface and it wasn't rolling forward when the parents left and anyone who ever drove stick knows that if you come to a stop and turn your car off on an uneven surface without engaging the E brake your car will roll forward or back before you open your door. 3. Even if the car was parked in neutral with E brake engaged, it means he had to start the car, push the clutch, put the truck in gear, release the E brake and execute the perfect clutch/gas pedal modulation to make it move forward without lurching or stalling. I'm not saying this is impossible but I'm just saying. Oh and one more thing...does anyone know how old this kid is?
        clquake
        • 7 Months Ago
        @Hakan Erses
        Many people leave a manual car in gear to help keep the vehicle from moving when parked, something I'd recommend since you're basically trusting a thin cable to hold back 4000+ lbs. The safety device on these is not working and you can turn the engine by trying to start it. This is a failed safety device, you can't spin it any other way, or compare it to something else because this isn't supposed to be able to happen.
      jebibudala
      • 7 Months Ago
      They should charge the parents with neglect just as they would when leaving a child unattended near an unsecured firearm. I don't know why people stopped treating vehicles like murder death machines. Driving while distracted (ie, texting), should also be treated as harsh as a DUI. Mandatory 90 days in jail, and or execution decided by roll of dice.
      Cruising
      • 6 Months Ago
      What age was the child? Can the child be charged with vehicular manslaughter?
      SloopJohnB
      • 7 Months Ago
      Too much safety cwap means people don't think any more. Model As and our 32Ford flathead pickup didn't have no-start unless clutch was pushed in. The big switch for the starter was on the floor above the clutch pedal…you could start the vehicle in gear if you really wanted to.
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