A dangerous cruise control feature has forced Fiat Chrysler to recall 4.8 million U.S. vehicles. (Brian Snyder/Reuters)

A defect that prevents drivers from shutting off cruise control, potentially placing them in hazardous situations on the road, has prompted Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV to issue a massive recall affecting 4.8 million U.S. vehicles, the company announced Friday.

The company hasn’t received any reports of injuries stemming from the defect and said the glitch occurs in “extremely rare” circumstances. Affected vehicles have already driven more than 200 billion miles, the company noted.

And yet, Fiat Chrysler is warning vehicle owners not to activate their vehicle’s cruise control — a system that automatically adjust the speed of a vehicle — until the they’ve received a software update.

The recall includes 15 different gasoline-powered vehicles, such as the Dodge Ram pickup and Jeep Cherokee SUV with automatic transmissions, built between 2014 and 2019, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

“Notwithstanding the extraordinary circumstances that must exist before a customer would experience a problem, we are taking this action because we are fully committed to vehicle safety,” Mark Chernoby, Chief Technical Compliance Officer and Head of Vehicle Safety & Regulatory Compliance, said in a statement released by Fiat Chrysler.

“We have a remedy and a widespread network of engaged dealers who are preparing to deliver service,” Chernoby added. “We urge customers to follow the instructions on their recall notices.”

Fiat Chrysler said company officials are aware of a single incident in March involving a 2017 Dodge Journey in which the driver couldn’t shut off the vehicle’s cruise control.  The rental vehicle from AVIS was traveling at about 70 mph when the windshield wipers turned on without warning and the throttle locked into the place, according to a complaint filed by the driver from Olathe, Kan., with NHTSA.

“I was able to over power the engine with the brakes and get the car to the side of the road,” the complaint said. “It was still running at an engine speed to support 70 mph and fighting the brakes. The push to start/stop engine control would not work.”

“A weaker person would most certainly been involved in a bad accident,” the complaint added. “I was concerned the car would catch on fire as the bakes smoked significantly.”

In affected vehicles, the company said, cruise control can potentially lock into place when the system is accelerating at the same time an electrical short circuit occurs.

“Should this error occur, drivers may be able to stop the vehicle by depressing the brake pedal,” an NHTSA statement said. “The vehicle can then be placed into park once stopped. Drivers may also: (1) shift the transmission to neutral; (2) forcefully apply the manual brake, and (3) place the vehicle in park once stopped.”

Fiat Chrysler said the company offering a software upgrade free of charge and will begin notifying affected customers next week.

Here is a complete list of the affected vehicles:

  • 2015-17 Chrysler 200 sedan
  • 2014-18 Chrysler 300 sedan
  • 2017-18 Chrysler Pacifica minivan
  • 2015-18 Dodge Challenger coupe
  • 2014-18 Dodge Charger sedan
  • 2014-18 Dodge Journey CUV
  • 2014-18 Dodge Durango SUV
  • 2014-18 Jeep Cherokee SUV
  • 2014-18 Jeep Grand Cherokee SUV
  • 2018 Jeep Wrangler
  • 2014-19 Ram 1500 pickup
  • 2014-18 Ram 2500 pickup
  • 2014-18 Ram 3500 pickup
  • 2014-18 Ram 3500 cab chassis
  • 2014-18 Ram 4500/5500 cab chassis

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