Jeep Liberty-2003
U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announced yesterday that the NHTSA was recalling more than 753,000 previously recalled Dodge and Jeep vehicles for a defect in the Occupant Restraint Control (ORC) that may cause airbags to deploy inadvertently. This is the second time these vehicles have been recalled for the same problem: the first time was in 2012.

The recalls are to provide owners with a new remedy since the original fix, which was approved by the NHTSA, proved ineffective in some vehicles.

At issue is a TRW-manufactured electronic component with a defect that caused airbags to inflate without being involved in an accident. The original fix involved installing filters or wiring harnesses to protect a key circuit from electrical damage.

In a statement, FCA US said approximately 0.003% of the vehicles repaired under the original recall had post-repair inadvertent air-bag deployments that caused minor injuries from contact with the air bags. The company is aware of a single related accident.

The NHTSA Recall No. 15V-046 covers 753,176 Chrysler vehicles: 2003-2004 Dodge Vipers built from November 1, 2001 – June 30, 2004; 2002-2003 Jeep Libertys built from January 9, 2001 – March 28, 2003; and 2002-2004 Jeep Cherokees and Grand Cherokees built from February 13, 2001 – May 23, 2003.

In addition to the vehicles covered under the NHTSA recall, 49,870 vehicles in Canada, 21,838 vehicles in Mexico and 103,633 vehicles outside the NAFTA region need the replacement, bringing the total number of affected vehicles to 928,497.

Chrysler isn’t alone: the total recall covers 2.12 million vehicles, including 374,177 Honda Odysseys and Acura MDXs as well as 1,006,849 Toyota-built vehicles including the Matrix/Pontiac Vibe, Corolla and Avalon made in the early 2000s. Honda’s and Toyota’s problems are magnified because the vehicles involved in this recall may also have the defective Takata airbags. None of the Chrysler vehicles were equipped with the Takata airbags.

FCA US says new ORC modules are being developed and adds that some vehicles also may need new front- and/or side-impact sensors to accommodate software compatibility.

At the moment, the NHTSA says that all that owners of the affected vehicles who haven’t had the original repair performed can do is to return the vehicle to their local dealership to have the original fix installed. FCA US will notify owners when the new ORC modules become available.

Adam Montegue, who owns Spankin Time, was charging a  reasonable $50 per car for dyno-testing.  All four corners of the car were anchored after wrapping protective towels over the alloy wheels.  Several sensors were attached and each car received at least three attempts to demonstrate horsepower at maximum throttle.   There were about fifteen cars signed up.

I had been trying to get an appointment at Spankin Time because my 2006 SRT8 Charger was running too rich.  This provided an opportunity that I couldn’t let pass.

There were two Darts, one was a 2.4 L, the other a 1.4 L turbo.  The turbocharged smaller engine outpulled the larger engine by a considerable number. (The 2.4 is rated at 171 lb-ft of torque and the 1.4 at 184, but the 2.4 is supposed to reach 184 hp vs the 1.4’s 160).

Three ladies showed up to get their Challengers assessed.  One  owned a  Hellcat and her husband was along, but it was abundantly clear that it was her car.  One had “Fast Lane Jane” painted on her car.

I saw one appearance mod that I really liked.  The side marker lights were painted to match the car, with “Mopar” left unpainted. [That meant that the lights were still functional.]

This was the first Hellcat that I had seen.  Dodge did an excellent job of hiding the headlight that is actually an opening into the breather box.  The perimeter still lights up appeared the same as the right side light.  The opening could have been bigger.  With the path already provided, I would wager that a lot of them get bigger.

I was perfectly happy with the interior of my car until Ralph Gilles called it “Rat Fur Grey.”  That said, I have two issues with the new interiors. First, the speedo and tach positions are reversed, not a big deal.  I am thankful to be living in an old body, but things don’t perform as well as they did 50 years ago.  The Charger hides speed and a quick glance leaves me wondering am I doing sixty or eighty. The new gauges do not have as much sweep as my 2006, so it would be even more difficult.

The biggest horsepower number for the day was 691, a Challenger with a Procharger; the Hellcat came next, at 637. That’s a decent number, since automakers give numbers taken at the crankshaft. That would normally indicate power well above the 707 hp rating, but the ZF is supposed to be very efficient, so reverse-engineering the power at the crankshaft by rule of thumb won’t work. (The rule of thumb would give us 580 horsepower, not 637, at the wheels, from a 707 horsepower engine.)

Adam has good success with Kenne Bell chargers on Mopars.   He has also seen an increase in his Mopar business.



The Hellcat Twins could get even more power from composite superchargers

The 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat and the 2015 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat are two of the most powerful cars in the world, but with composite material projects going on in the supercharger world, the Hellcat twins could get more power from the same basic setup.


The current supercharger is an impressive design from IHI Turbo,  which is responsible for the design and production of the supercharger, integrated intake manifold, and the heat exchangers built into the housing.  Developments in the supercharger industry could lead to future relatives of the Hellcat Hemi generating even more power with the same basic design.

The “problem” with all supercharger designs is that they are belt driven off of the crankshaft, so the amount of force needed to spin the supercharger eats some of the power created by the engine.  In the case of the 6.2L Hellcat Hemi, the engine makes an official figure of 707 horsepower, but the IHI supercharger unit absorbs roughly 80 horsepower (at peak) to create the boost.  If the supercharger took less effort to spin and create boost, more net power would be created.

One way to improve the efficiency of a supercharger like the one in the Hellcat Charger and Challenger is to lighten up the internal moving components, which would then use less force to spin.  The rotors are already made of lightweight alloys, but advancements in both carbon fiber and plastic composites could allow supercharger companies to build the rotors out of even lighter weight materials.

There have been rumors about Chrysler working with composite superchargers, and while there is no proof of Chrysler-specific applications, there are major players in the forced induction aftermarket who are working on something along these lines – and Eaton has applied for a patent on a supercharger housing using lightweight composites for the central rotors.

According to a patent filing made by Eaton back in 2013 that was published mid-2014, the company is working to replace the metal rotors with molded or laid composites that could include both high tech plastics and carbon fiber composites.  A composite material that will hold up to the heat and stress that the rotors of a supercharger face during every second of operation would be a huge breakthrough in the industry…but how does this affect Chrysler, since they use an IHI supercharger design?

When the Hellcat Hemi was in its earliest design stages, the folks responsible for creating this monster engine considered designs from a variety of companies.  While IHI is the company providing Chrysler with blowers right now, a big breakthrough by Eaton or some other manufacturer could lead the automaker to switch supplies.

A breakthrough by one manufacturer will also likely lead to similar new products from other manufacturers, through patent licensing, so should Eaton roll out a supercharger with a composite rotor design, it would only be a matter of time before the competition offered up something similar.  IHI could be the company to create a composite supercharger to rival Eaton, provided that Chrysler didn’t just jump at the first option that would help put more power to the ground in the most powerful American performance cars on the road.

Finally, in addition to creating superchargers with lighter rotors that would “eat” less engine power, there is also the possibility that Eaton, IHI, or some other company (including Chrysler internally) could come up with a supercharger that uses plastic or carbon fiber composites for other parts of the unit.  For instance, using lightweight composites for portions of the case, the cooling system, or the manifold wouldn’t help make the supercharger more efficient, but it would cut the overall weight of the car.  In the case of the 4,500 pound Hellcat Charger or Challenger, every pound shaved — particularly up front — will improve the overall performance of the car.

Ram ProMaster vs For Transit in snowAfter snow flooded large swaths of the nation, Ram showed off the prowess of its front wheel drive ProMaster in a short new commercial, showing the van racing a Ford Transit up a hill in Houghton, Michigan.

It did not take long before the Transit got stuck on the mild 20% grade, in fairly shallow snow.

A Ram spokesman wrote the video was filmed while the vans were empty, but that they had the same results when the vans were loaded up to half their payload capacity.

Both vans are relatively new to the US, but are based on established European designs. ProMaster has front wheel drive and a slightly wider interior; unlike the Fiat Ducato, it has a Chrysler powertrain, along with many suspension modifications for greater durability and capacity. A Fiat diesel and transmission have just become available.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) will air three commercials during this Sunday’s Super Bowl XLIX broadcast. The first spot will be the first commercial following the second quarter’s “two-minute warning” break; the second and the third commercials are scheduled to run in breaks during the third quarter. So far, the company has not released any information about the content, but some of the ads in past years have been pivotal for Chrysler while others have … not.

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