2018 Pacifica Hybrid almost caught fire after latest recall fix - 2017+ Chrysler Pacifica Minivan Forums
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post #1 of 73 (permalink) Old 12-15-2018, 02:31 AM Thread Starter
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Exclamation 2018 Pacifica Hybrid almost caught fire after latest U94 recall fix

Hi, new forum poster here. I've been a happy 2018 Hybrid Limited owner up until today when I had to pull over to the side of the road and jump out of the vehicle and call 911 because all signs pointed to it being about to catch on fire. THIS WAS AFTER taking car in this Monday for U94 recall fix!

This past Monday - Tuesday we had the latest U94 recall service performed, we also had the first U73 recall update done a couple of months ago. U94 was completed, and no issues were noted with the catalytic converter during service. We also had no issues prior to the U94 update.

Car was picked up Tuesday, but Wednesday my wife (who normally drives the vehicle) noted that it smelled a bit like burning rubber when she was driving. I drove the car today to check things out and after about 45 miles of driving when I pressed the accelerator a bit deeper to maintain highway speed during a medium grade climb I didn't notice any increase in power. At the same time I heard a loud popping sound which i initially thought was me running over something in the road (there was truck tire debris).

I let off the accelerator momentarily to check the road and ensure I wasn't hitting any rubber debris. I again pressed on the accelerator, but again only electric motor power, and no extra grunt from the ICE. I even flipped the hybrid info screen to the one that shows the balance of power from the electric motor and ICE. I pressed the accelerator a 3rd time and saw the electric motor indicator go to 100% power, and after a second or so the ICE indicator also went to 100%, but still no extra boost of power. At this time I heard another loud pop or two, and started to smell smoke.

At this time my mind had processed that there was something serious going on with the car (mind you total time elapsed from the first indication of sluggish power only about 5 seconds). I pulled off to the side of the highway and once the car was no longer in motion with airflow under the hood I could see a significant amount of smoke coming from under the hood.

I jumped out of the car, then popped the hood to see what was going on. What I saw was the entire exhaust manifold / catalytic converter area was GLOWING BRIGHT ORANGE and smoke was emanating from somewhere deeper in the engine compartment.

I was convinced the car was going to catch fire, so I called 911. I returned to the car to turn it fully off, then backed away, while contemplating if I needed to start throwing my belongings out of the car.

I snapped a few pictures, but unfortunately the process of completing the emergency call took about 5 minutes or so between transfers, and questions etc. So the pictures were after the parts had time to cool down and the smoke had cleared (so they're not as dramatic as when the hood was first opened). You can still see the manifold is dull orange in the picture.

So after completing what was supposed to be a corrected recall to prevent this exact type of failure, our car which was before this behaving fine is disabled, had to be towed to the dealer, and I feel lucky to have noticed that something was going on before a true fire started under the hood. Mind you this is the car that my wife normally drives and we usually have our two young daughters strapped into car seats in back. She is now TERRIFIED and refuses to drive the 50k car we just purchased 9 months ago and said "what if it was me and the girls and I was rushing to unbuckle them from their car seats!!!"

I immediately contacted Chrysler corporate customer service while waiting for a tow truck and logged a case, but was rather disappointed in their lackluster response of "just take it to the dealer, have a great day" after my car nearly caught fire!!!!!
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post #2 of 73 (permalink) Old 12-15-2018, 11:32 AM
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Hi, new forum poster here. I've been a happy 2018 Hybrid Limited owner up until today when I had to pull over to the side of the road and jump out of the vehicle and call 911 because all signs pointed to it being about to catch on fire. THIS WAS AFTER taking car in this Monday for U94 recall fix!

This past Monday - Tuesday we had the latest U94 recall service performed, we also had the first U73 recall update done a couple of months ago. U94 was completed, and no issues were noted with the catalytic converter during service. We also had no issues prior to the U94 update.

Car was picked up Tuesday, but Wednesday my wife (who normally drives the vehicle) noted that it smelled a bit like burning rubber when she was driving. I drove the car today to check things out and after about 45 miles of driving when I pressed the accelerator a bit deeper to maintain highway speed during a medium grade climb I didn't notice any increase in power. At the same time I heard a loud popping sound which i initially thought was me running over something in the road (there was truck tire debris).

I let off the accelerator momentarily to check the road and ensure I wasn't hitting any rubber debris. I again pressed on the accelerator, but again only electric motor power, and no extra grunt from the ICE. I even flipped the hybrid info screen to the one that shows the balance of power from the electric motor and ICE. I pressed the accelerator a 3rd time and saw the electric motor indicator go to 100% power, and after a second or so the ICE indicator also went to 100%, but still no extra boost of power. At this time I heard another loud pop or two, and started to smell smoke.

At this time my mind had processed that there was something serious going on with the car (mind you total time elapsed from the first indication of sluggish power only about 5 seconds). I pulled off to the side of the highway and once the car was no longer in motion with airflow under the hood I could see a significant amount of smoke coming from under the hood.

I jumped out of the car, then popped the hood to see what was going on. What I saw was the entire exhaust manifold / catalytic converter area was GLOWING BRIGHT ORANGE and smoke was emanating from somewhere deeper in the engine compartment.

I was convinced the car was going to catch fire, so I called 911. I returned to the car to turn it fully off, then backed away, while contemplating if I needed to start throwing my belongings out of the car.

I snapped a few pictures, but unfortunately the process of completing the emergency call took about 5 minutes or so between transfers, and questions etc. So the pictures were after the parts had time to cool down and the smoke had cleared (so they're not as dramatic as when the hood was first opened). You can still see the manifold is dull orange in the picture.

So after completing what was supposed to be a corrected recall to prevent this exact type of failure, our car which was before this behaving fine is disabled, had to be towed to the dealer, and I feel lucky to have noticed that something was going on before a true fire started under the hood. Mind you this is the car that my wife normally drives and we usually have our two young daughters strapped into car seats in back. She is now TERRIFIED and refuses to drive the 50k car we just purchased 9 months ago and said "what if it was me and the girls and I was rushing to unbuckle them from their car seats!!!"

I immediately contacted Chrysler corporate customer service while waiting for a tow truck and logged a case, but was rather disappointed in their lackluster response of "just take it to the dealer, have a great day" after my car nearly caught fire!!!!!
Wow. This sucks man. Sorry to hear..

I'm looking at your timing and you've been running on the defective software for months and the day after picking it up was your problem.

I have to assume you avoided running the ICE in the meantime?

What caused the cats to glow is fuel saturation. So raw fuel gets into the cats and then burns off inside the cats. We know your cats where intact the day before but fuel soaking is not visable, only melted structure.

Since your issue occurred immediately after the update, it's highly probable the u73 defect filled the cats and after the u94 update you had the misfortune of getting to burning it off.

Its hard to say that was the u94 that caused it.
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post #3 of 73 (permalink) Old 12-15-2018, 12:42 PM Thread Starter
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We drove the car like normal in the months after the U73 update. Even took at least two trips across the state (~365 miles each way). So we didn't baby it or do anything special, and each day we drove on the ICE because the 33 miles on electric isn't sufficient for our daily driving. So it seems VERY suspect that months of driving on U73 were fine, knowing that each day the ICE was run without issue, and then the day after U94 problems begin...
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post #4 of 73 (permalink) Old 12-15-2018, 01:28 PM Thread Starter
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And i do agree that at this point it is difficult to say that U94 was the specific cause. But as a owner and father I know that my car drove in a safe manner for months since we purchased it in March, and then literally the day after U94 recall service was performed issues began culminating in a near fire 4 days after picking it up from service. So although at this time root cause isn't known, it seems to point that the U94 recall service changed something in the equation from a car that functioned, to one that resulted in the car not being safe.

As a mechanical engineer, it is very difficult for me to agree that this was the result of a rich fuel air mixture left over caused by U73. The reasons being the following:

Gasoline is a solvent and usually evaporates very quickly in small quantities. The only way I see it hanging around for days inside the manifold and exhaust is if it was trapped in large quantity in a cavity (think puddle) where it wouldn't evaporate. I'll admit that could have happened, but if that was the case, and it was being caused by U73 state all along, then why didn't this problem occur during the literally thousands of miles that were driven on the ICE over the prior months?

My logic says something changed after the U94 update, which changed the variables at play, causing the burned rubber smell to begin immediately after, and eventually allowing for the car to almost catch on fire on the 4th day after update...

But to me the very fact that as an owner I'm having to contemplate the reason why my vehicle almost caught fire, and a vehicle that I'm trusting the life of my wife and two kids to is the main issue. And if U94 is the cause or not, the summation is that the problem is not fully understood to the point where Chrysler can say this vehicle is safe after update. As you point out, if there is a lingering issue from U73 that was the root cause, that means it's not fully understood by Chrysler, because otherwise their remedy should have included steps to eliminate that carry over risk (if one does exist).

One of the main things that a highway patrol officer told me when he stopped to check on me while waiting for the tow truck was "if you get into an accident on this highway, STAY IN YOUR CAR" because its a windy mountain highway, and the risk of exiting your vehicle and getting injured in a secondary collision is great. In this case, if your car is smoking and looks as if it is about to catch fire, you HAVE to exit, and thankfully it was me driving and not my wife as she normally does, and I was able to pull into one of the few locations where you can pull significantly off the highway. Because otherwise that would have put my wife and two young daughters in great danger.

I am not a happy customer right now, and my wife said she refuses to drive in this vehicle again. I filed a report with NTHSA, and after going on that site there are MANY complaints of the same issue I experience many resulting in actual flames, however I assume all of those occurred during U73 and not U94...
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post #5 of 73 (permalink) Old 12-15-2018, 03:19 PM
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If the U73 recall was performed a couple of months ago, or even three months ago, that would have been September or October and you should have gotten the updated version without the synchronization problem in the PCM firmware and you should have been in no danger of overheating the catalytic converters. You shouldn't have even been on the list for the U94 recall.

It is difficult to figure out the cause of this problem. It is the first report I have seen of an overheated catalytic converter from somebody who has gotten the fixed U73 recall or indeed the U94 recall. But it is hard to argue that it is just a coincidence that it happened immediately after the U94 recall. Perhaps the technician that did the U94 recall used an out-of-date downloaded copy of the PCM software. But I didn't think that was possible -- I thought they never stored the firmware locally but always got the most recent version from Chrysler. Anyway, the first question you should ask of the dealer is what version of the PCM software is currently installed. In my case I got version 68366580AI as a result of doing the RRT 18-087 update (which is the predecessor to the U94 recall).

Update: on further reflection I am going to put out a theory that is admittedly a bit of a stretch. Suppose the U73 recall was done more than two months ago, perhaps in early to mid August. In that case it would have been the version with the bad PCM software. That would explain why you were on the list for the U94 recall. Further suppose that the technician who did the U94 recall did the catalytic converter inspection but forgot to update the PCM software. Then you would still have the bad PCM software which could cause problems at any time -- it is just chance that it gets out of synchronization during the transition from electric to gas power. There are quite a few people who drove thousands of miles with the bad software.
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Last edited by AZBean; 12-15-2018 at 03:32 PM.
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post #6 of 73 (permalink) Old 12-15-2018, 04:12 PM
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Originally Posted by bran_jean View Post
We drove the car like normal in the months after the U73 update. Even took at least two trips across the state (~365 miles each way). So we didn't baby it or do anything special, and each day we drove on the ICE because the 33 miles on electric isn't sufficient for our daily driving. So it seems VERY suspect that months of driving on U73 were fine, knowing that each day the ICE was run without issue, and then the day after U94 problems begin...
As I understand it you shouldn't be on the list for u94 unless you have the faulty software installed.

So you mentioned you had the "first" u73 software update done. The First u74 was recalled because it caused this issue.

So when did you have the u73 done?

The difficulty I'm having accepting that the u94 caused your burning issue and being more sympathetic is how that you apparently knowingly waited 1month after the u94 fix was available - that is supposed to prevent this problem - to get it installed.. and you didn't even alter your behaviour in anyway to prevent your van from catching fire prior to the u94?

Your a mechanical engineer.. Does this seem responsible? If you knew your tire has an enormous bulge in the sidewall are you going to rip it at 80mph and take your chances or ease off and baby it until you can get it fixed?

Sorry your van smoked..

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post #7 of 73 (permalink) Old 12-16-2018, 01:29 AM Thread Starter
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Well your narrative is the result of many false assumptions...

1. First notice we ever received referenced a cruise control issue, I had also heard about this on the news prior to receiving the actual notice in the mail. Prior to the recall service being completed, we did avoid using cruise control. This initial service was performed July 28th 2018. (Absolutely no mention of any risk to catalytic converter, thus no need for me to alter behavior).

You seem to be well versed in the software versions, I do not know what version of software was installed on the car with each service. But it should have been whatever was the latest version employed for the cruise control recall fix on July 28, 2018.

2. After that recall was performed there was never any mention of any follow up issues, and no warning issued by my dealership, or Chrysler in the mail etc. So again there was absolutely no reason for us to operate the vehicle in any method other than how it was intended, which is to drive it...

So this take us to about 2nd or 3rd week of November... Us driving our Pacifica as normal, believing that the only issue was the first recall for cruise control and that was fixed.

3. I don't frequent these forums and imagine only a few percent of owners actually do, and nor should an owner have to in order to determine if their car is safe to drive. However, I did happen to login perhaps 4 weeks ago and read a post stating that there was a follow up recall was coming around Dec 9th because a driver that had experienced damage to their catalytic converter after having the first recall completed. What I read at the time did not mention your vehicle could catch fire, and there was only casual mention of folks saying they were going to avoid taking long trips, but equally as many that had said they had successfully completed long trips without issue.

So without any public bulletin, no contact from dealer, no follow up recall notice, no nothing, we needed to continue to drive our vehicle, and we did... It was not an option for us to drive only in electric mode, as our daily commute and errands are more than 33 miles.

4. After reading the post on the forum I was proactive and contacted my local dealer to schedule a recall appointment for Dec 10th since the posting said the recall would be available on the 9th. The service tech asked for my VIN and plugged it into the system and then informed me there was not a recall open for my vehicle and no service was needed. I persisted and scheduled the appointment anyway assuming that once it was available I would have an appointment for the next possible day.

5. Not sure where how you were able to gain access to the U94 recall service a month ago, but in my case I didn't receive a recall notice until about the 1st of December. So if we forget about Pacifica forums, this is the first time an average owner in my area would have become aware that there was ANYTHING amiss with the vehicle.

But because I was proactive and was lucky to have known about Pacifica forums I already had my appointment scheduled for the 10th and the dealer books up many weeks in advanced, so my appointment for the 10th was weeks ahead of where I would have been if I had attempted to book a new appt that day. Again, that recall notice did not provide any specific warning that if you allow your ICE to come on at all your car can catch fire. And it didn't say "stop driving your vehicle".

6. Recall service was performed on Dec 10-11th, and again, ABSOLUTELY nothing was told to us about limiting ICE usage, or altering our driving habits in any way. I was told, the tech pulled the oxygen sensors, checked the cat, everything looked good, software was updated, car was test driven, and all was good. Again, not knowing I needed to triple check the dealership, I didn't say "let me see the exact version of software" and again, as an owner, I shouldn't have to!

So sir please tell me as a consumer who does not spend my days and nights reading Pacifica forums (I have started now after this issued occurred), who goes by recall notices as they arrive in the mail, gets required recall service performed, and drives the car as intended, how is this negligence on my part?

In addition it is not always possible to get appointments in our area on a moments notice, many of the dealerships in my area that I have contacted for service appointments are booking 4-5 weeks out. So in many cases even if one does call the day of a recall notices arrival it could very well take 1 month or more for service to be completed, for no fault of their own. Again in my case I was proactive and scheduled my appointment even BEFORE the recall notice arrived and even though the service advisor said I didn't have an open recall on our van.

Its very easy to pass judgement with hindsight and paint a picture of me sitting around for a month doing nothing apparently allowing my family to drive our car in an unsafe manner, but that is thankfully far from the truth...

I'm not looking for your sympathy, and thanks for your time in the thread.
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post #8 of 73 (permalink) Old 12-16-2018, 01:44 AM
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Your concerns and your actions are entirely reasonable.
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post #9 of 73 (permalink) Old 12-16-2018, 03:07 AM
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Your concerns and your actions are entirely reasonable.
I agree.

Heres what you missed.

Chrysler was negligent in the handling of original u73 recall and a StopDivery Recall for u73 was issued on Aug 17,2018 after several vehicles caught fire. Dealerships however continued installing the faulty software upto around September and Chrysler had no idea what vehicles had the software put on. They claimed affected vehicles where added to a list but failed to upgrade the situation to a emergency OTA update or recall status and contact owners.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/mgwm0fma69...20USA.pdf?dl=0

Once the u73 bug was fixed and the recall continued there was no revision to redo previously completed recalls only that affected vehicles would be on the VIP list which was botched also and owners of hybrids that got the faulty u73 software where being rejected at the dealerships because the recall had already been done even with a fight explaining the scenerio they where turned away - some to smoke the car miles from the dealers. No list was effectively put together, and PacHy's where being sold and smoking within 500mi of ownership.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/gulghar5gu...V-332.pdf?dl=0

Facebook changed the group name to "Warning FIRE HAZARD!" - the forum and Facebook lead a campaign to inform owners of the issue to prevent what you experienced.

After months of continued issues and your very own @AZBean here, ambassadoring the issue tirelessly helping sort out this mess of what vehicles need the updated software immediately and which are considered safe. ChryslerCares here was contacting dealers on behalf of owners that couldn't get the dealer to give them the update and making it happen.

Finally after several headlines Chysler owned up (way too late) and created the u94 recall to contact owners to bring them in.

This recall states there is an ignition hazard on page 2 but doesn't link the chain of recalls together.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/k6ak1nccvv...02018.pdf?dl=0

In this case, You and yours are the reason everyone was fighting for Chrysler to make this an official recall - and just do the right thing by contacting the unsuspecting owners that don't follow the media.

So to hear that the u94 has NOT fixed is very distressing because there have been no reported issues of cats melting on vehicles after the second u73 recall was installed from Sept onward. The u94 is the same software with the cat inspection (to see if its too late for the cats) lumped together.

If the u94 is causing a continued problem then we are all in a big world of hurt. But your the first to report it.
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post #10 of 73 (permalink) Old 12-16-2018, 03:23 AM Thread Starter
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Wow, OK thank you for the information, it was VERY helpful. I guess in those months between me joining the forum in March prior to purchasing, and randomly logging in again a month or so ago I missed a TON.

Based upon what you said, and the fact that my original U73 recall was performed in July 28th I believe then I indeed did have the original defective version of U73. I guess I was fortunate that I was able to drive issued free up until this week.

So I think at this point there's two possible scenarios:

The first which AZBean pointed out, they performed the inspection, but forgot to actually update the software... But at this point I have no way of knowing if that occurred since the car is sitting in the back lot of the dealership in preparation for then to inspect it Monday at 10:30am...

The second is the doomsday scenario in which they did install U94, but the issue still occurred, which then points to the issue not being actually resolved and thus not fully being understood...

But for me I'm stuck because after this experience my wife literally said I'm not stepping foot in that car again! Because at the end of the day for her (and me) we went to the dealer, had a service performed that was supposed to prevent this according to the manufacturer, and 4 days later it happened. Regardless of the cause (although I know true root cause is valuable and needed), it points to a lack of control over the situation on the part of Chrysler and or the dealership. And with fires starting on the highway, people's safety and lives are literally at stake.
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Last edited by bran_jean; 12-16-2018 at 03:29 AM.
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