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ZF 9-speed Automatic Problems Climb on, Chrysler Releases Third Update for Cherokee – News – Car and Driver, Car and Driver Blog

Holy Shift: ZF 9-speed Automatic Problems Climb on, Chrysler Releases Third Software Update for Jeep Cherokee

Problems with the ZF-designed nine-speed automatic transmission are continuing to pile up, with customer complaints continuing to roll in regarding fresh Jeep, Chrysler, and Acura models.

A latest report from Automotive News said Fiat-Chrysler would be updating software for the transverse-mounted 9HP gearbox on 2014–2015 Jeep Cherokees and four-cylinder two thousand fifteen Chrysler 200s commencing this month. This marks the third time the automaker has released a software patch (the last occurred in May) since the Cherokee’s debut in late 2013, which was delayed to fix problems with the transmission. The Cherokee and two thousand fourteen Range Rover Evoque were the very first two cars in production with the nine-speed, followed by the two thousand fifteen Chrysler two hundred and six-cylinder versions of the two thousand fifteen Acura TLX.

As of today, we counted a total of one hundred forty five unique possessor complaints posted to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, one hundred twenty six of which explicitly named the two thousand fourteen Cherokee’s transmission. Another ten transmission complaints were lodged for the fresh 200, and eight have been posted to the TLX’s log file. There were no complaints recorded for the Evoque.

But these allegations are far worse than the sluggish and delayed gearchanges we’ve experienced testing the Cherokee and Evoque (and yet absent in the two hundred and TLX). Cherokee, 200, and TLX owners have each reported conditions such as unexpected lunges from unexpected downshifts, a lack of kickdown upon coming in highways, front-axle stimulation in low gears, and accomplish failures in which the transmission shifts into neutral while driving and lights up the dash with warning lights. Other owners have reported rollaways in which the vehicle indicated it had engaged park when it was actually in neutral. One of these reported instances involved a Cherokee that went into a lake, having very first spinned over someone’s foot and dragged the person into “eight to ten feet of water,” according to one NHTSA complaint. In December, Honda recalled almost nine thousand four hundred Acura TLX sedans for this very problem.

While NHTSA has not launched an investigation, Jeep dealers are substituting inbetween twelve to fifteen transmissions a week, according to AN. Aside from Honda, there have been no recalls for this transmission, only lots of frustrated owners from these first-year vehicles.

“We have had to do an inordinate amount of intervention on that transmission, surely beyond what any of us had forecast,” FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne said at the Detroit auto showcase last month.

ZF told us the problems were entirely due to software and not to anything mechanical, but it would not comment on what specific improvements it was making, as “ZF works independently with each customer based on their needs.”

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