Older Ram pickups undergo U.S. safety agency inquiries

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration looks into complaints about clutch problem.
By The Associated Press Published: May 24, 2014
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— U.S. safety regulators are investigating whether older-model Ram pickup trucks with manual transmissions can be started without the clutch being depressed.

The probe covers about 110,000 Ram 2500 and 3500 pickups made by Chrysler from the 2004 through 2006 model years.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said in documents posted on its website Friday that it has three complaints about the problem, including one fatal accident. In that case, a child was able to start a truck without using the clutch. The truck moved forward, striking and killing another child, the safety agency said.

Vehicles with manual transmissions are required to have interlock mechanisms that stop the motor from being started unless the clutch is depressed.

“The clutch interlock safety switch had not been tampered with and was in its original condition,” the truck owner wrote in the fatal accident complaint. “The switch has been tested and found to be defective.”

People who file complaints with NHTSA are not identified. The complaint was filed Feb. 26, and the crash happened Aug. 25, 2013. It involved a 2006 Ram 3500 heavy-duty pickup, according to the complaint.

In another case, a truck engine was cranked without the clutch being pressed, and it moved forward and struck a person working under the hood. The person was not hurt, according to the documents.

Chrysler said that customers with concerns should contact their dealer.