Fiat Chrysler’s nine-speed automatic transmission that’s paired with the 2.4-liter inline-four engines has been problematic since before it hit the market. It delayed the release of the 2014 Jeep Cherokee for three months, and consumers are still complaining about the transmission unexpectedly disengaging, shifting hard, lunging, and triggering warning lights. Once again the company is attempting to fix the problem, this time notifying owners of 2014 to 2015 Jeep Cherokees and 2015 Chrysler 200s that a software update is available that should smooth things out.
Hopefully the fix works, because many consumers are fed up with the continual problems. The transmission is being used in the new Jeep Renegade and Fiat 500X, which could mean even more upset customers if the problems persist. Eventually, the automaker says the transmission will be used in all front-wheel-drive models.
Vehicle owners have been complaining to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration about the transmission issues since October of 2013, right after the new Cherokee went to market. Chrysler has deployed three software patches to fix the problem, including the current one. So far no crashes or deaths have been linked with the transmission.
The same nine-speed automatic transmission, which was designed by ZF, is used on the all-new 2015 Acura TLX. Only eight complaints have been logged by the NHTSA for that vehicle, while the tally for the Cherokee is up to 126. The Chrysler 200 has only picked up 10 complaints as well. Interestingly enough, the Land Rover Ranger Rover Evoque uses the same transmission as well, but zero complaints have been recorded. Perhaps Fiat Chrysler and Honda should take a trip to Britain to find out the secret.
Professional car reviewers have been less-than-kind about any vehicle with the nine-speed automatic tranny, reporting that gear changes take too long or downshifts occur without reason. Despite the problems, the NHTSA has not opened an official investigation. Automotive News says that Jeep dealerships in the United States are swapping out as many as 15 transmissions each week.