Chrysler has issued a recall for 2014 and 2015 models of the Fiat 500L. According to a statement from the automaker, the recall affects nearly 30,000 vehicles – 25,500 in the US, and another 4,000 registered in Canada.
The recall stems from a problem with the 500L's knee airbags. Chrysler says that "routine testing...suggests the supplemental restraint – designed to protect a driver’s knees – may not deploy in the proper position if the driver is not wearing a seatbelt". To date, the automaker has received no complaints about the issue, and no accident or injuries have been reported.
The recall was issued yesterday -- as fate would have it, the same day that the world learned about the Fiat 500L's poor performance on the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's small front overlap crash test. There's no indication that the two events are related, or that fixing the airbags on the 500L would've improved its performance on the IIHS test. However, one of the 500L's bigger failings on that test involved damage to the test dummies' lower extremities. It's almost certainly a coincidence – the recall likely stems from an abundance of caution that automakers are exhibiting in the wake of General Motors' "Switchgate" fiasco – but the timing is notable.
Chrysler hasn't indicated when it plans to alert Fiat owners about the recall, but the company says that until cars are inspected and repaired, owners should always wear their seatbelts. (We'd second that emotion, even after the cars have been fixed.)
If you believe that you own one of the vehicles involved in this recall and have further questions, we encourage you to contact Chrysler's Customer Information Center at 800-853-1403.