Sliding Door Origins and Innovation
Long before the Chrysler and Dodge sliding door defect, doors were being utilized by civilization. Over time, some of the simplest concepts have advanced greatly alongside humanity. Due to the regularity of doors in our daily lives, we hardly give thought to not only their origins, but their evolution over the years.
Different varieties of doors were found in the ruins of Pompeii including single doors, double doors, sliding doors, and even folding doors. Even evidence of automatic doors dates back to the 1st Century AD. While these different types of doors have existed for hundreds of years, it wasn’t until the last century that the more complex variety of this component was used in a vehicle.
The first vehicle manufacturer to implement a sliding door into their automotive designs was Citroën, a French company known for its innovation. These days, we are more likely to see an automatic sliding door on modern vehicles, a concept that was introduced to the market by Dee Horton and Lew Hewitt in 1954. With just the push of a button, these doors open and close to allow people to enter and exit vehicles. In theory, this seems rather uncomplicated, but behind the door, there is a more complex mechanical system facilitating its operation.
Sliding Door Functionality
The automatic sliding door primarily functions by using a motor to control the movements of the door and a lock actuator, to secure the door once its closed and to release the door when it needs to open.
The motor generally operates using two pulleys that have a belt wrapped around them. The motor operates the belt which turns around the pulleys, moving the door along the track with it. There are also bumpers in place to stop the door from moving to far or coming off the track. The other important component is the lock actuator, which holds the door closed after it shuts.
When the lock button on the remote is pressed, the message is then transferred to the control module which transmits the action to the electronic lock actuator. The actuator is usually either built into the latch assembly or placed in between the lock cylinder, lock, and latch assembly.
Either way, a message is sent to the lock linkage, typically either a rod or cable, from the control module to move the part back and forth, locking and unlocking the door. If there is an issue with any aspect of the sliding door motor or lock actuator—it could cause issues that affect the overall safety of the vehicle.
Chrysler Pacifica, Chrysler Town and Country, and Dodge Grand Caravan Sliding Door Malfunction
Unfortunately for FCA, their models with sliding doors do in fact have issues with the sliding door lock assembly. This includes not only the actuator but the door latch as well. The latching systems on the Chrysler Pacifica, Chrysler Town and Country, and Dodge Grand Caravan are known to fail—which creates an enormous safety hazard for consumers with these vehicles.
The Chrysler and Dodge sliding door defect have alarmed consumers around the world. Sometimes the vehicle fails to lock while other times it fails to unlock, and it is completely independent of whether the vehicle is running or not.
Not only does this pose a threat to occupants in the vehicle while it is in motion—it also creates the possibility of a battery drain when the vehicle is off, which could trap occupants in the minivan with no way of getting out. There have also been cases where back seat passengers were forced to climb through the front doors to exit the vehicle.
While the malfunction originates in the actuator itself, it prevents the locks from functioning which subsequently causes the failure of the door sensors.
FCA is said to have known about this issue for a long time without making an effort to resolve it. Dodge Grand Caravan and Chrysler Town & Country customers have been forced to pay for repairs for a well-established issue that the manufacturer has seemingly known about for years.
Consequently, 2018 Dodge Grand Caravan owner Lisa White decided to take matters into her own hands by filing a class action lawsuit against FCA on July 22, 2021. This lawsuit includes 2013-2020 Dodge Grand Caravan owners as well as 2013-2016 Chrysler Town & Country owners.
NHTSA Investigation and FCA Technical Service Bulletin
Due to over 475 NHTSA complaints from customers about the Chrysler and Dodge sliding door defect, the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration felt inclined to formally investigate this matter. They have yet to discover any crashes or injuries related to the safety issue, but they will continue to investigate the problem in order to ensure the safety of civilians and discover possible consequences this malfunction could have. One thing they noted, however, was the fact that FCA has released one TSB regarding this issue for specific model years of this vehicle.
The TSB was released on June 4th, 2020, for the owners of any 2016-2017 Dodge Caravan or Chrysler Town & Country. The service bulletin notes the condition as either one or both sliding doors do not operate properly and/or they produce a buzzing sound while unlocking or locking.
The repair will only be performed if it is deemed necessary during the diagnostic procedure, or if the vehicle owner mentions any of the symptoms written in the service bulletin. The repair for vehicles affected by this malfunction entails fully replacing one or both sliding door lock actuators. The repairs are considered reimbursable if they fall within the provisions of the warranty.
Unfortunately, the service bulletin does not include all of the Grand Caravan and Town & Country vehicles that are affected by this defect—which is why the TSB is not enough to protect FCA from the repercussions of concealing a safety issue that was brought to their attention long ago.
What Consumers are Saying
Dodge and Chrysler minivan owners across the nation have experienced these sliding door issues for years. Many have noted their complaints to the NHTSA, making it evident that these are not isolated occurrences.
One Dodge Grand Caravan owner noted that both of his sliding doors failed to unlock, and backseat passengers were forced to exit the vehicle through the front doors of the vehicle, the rear hatch or the sliding door windows. His primary concern was what might happen if there were an emergency.
A Chrysler Town & Country owner mentioned that her passenger sliding door will not close and stays ajar while she is driving. She is scared most about the fact that the door could potentially open all the way while she is driving, which would endanger the lives of her children and all backseat passengers.
A Chrysler Pacifica owner noted that she opened her passenger sliding door with the remote and rested her hand on the door frame as she grabbed something from the back of the front passenger seat—while she did this, the door automatically closed on her hand. This consumer was lucky that a neighbor was around to help her free her hand and that she was not seriously injured.
These Chrysler and Dodge sliding door defects could possibly cause serious injury and should not be overlooked as a small defect. If you have had any of these issues with the sliding door on your Chrysler or Dodge minivan, it could be a lemon!
Chrysler or Dodge Lemon Law Claim? What to Do If You’ve Experienced Chrysler or Dodge Sliding Door Issues
Maybe you have experienced Chrysler and Dodge Sliding door defects with your vehicle, or maybe you have yet to experience these issues but are worried that you may soon. At the Lemon Law Experts, great help is just a phone call away! Our team of Lemon Law Experts have been helping California consumers with their automobile lemon law claims for over a decade.
Below is a brief list of what you should do if you have experienced issues with your sliding doors
- Pay attention to what your vehicle does when it malfunctions
- Take your vehicle in for repairs at an authorized Chrysler or Dodge dealership.
- Make sure all your concerns are noted accurately by the authorized service dealership on the repair records.
- Keep copies of all your repair records and receipts!
If you have taken your vehicle to the dealership for warranty repair work related to these issues on two or more separate occasions, you may have a lemon under California Lemon Law and you could be entitled to a refund!
Contact Us Today!
If you are interested in pursuing a potential lemon law claim, call our team of Lemon Law Experts today. We do not charge you for our representation and our consultations are always fast and free. At our law firm, Lemon Law is all that we do. We have the proven track record, results, and team to provide you with excellent lemon law representation to get you the results you deserve.