Second Fiat Recall Spotlights Growing Worries Over Car-Hacking

  • Recall of 7,810 model year 2015 Renegades with touchscreens
  • Company recalled 1.4 million vehicles for unrelated threat

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV has issued its second recall in six weeks over flaws that left vehicles vulnerable to hacking, spotlighting concerns that increasingly sophisticated electronics in cars may allow criminals to interfere with their operation.

The flaw, affecting 7,810 2015 Jeep Renegade SUVs, relates to 6.5-inch touchscreens. The recall is to “protect connected vehicles from remote manipulation,” Fiat Chrysler said. The vehicles will get a software update to make them more secure.

“The software manipulation addressed by this recall required unique and extensive technical knowledge, prolonged physical access to a subject vehicle and extended periods of time to write code,” the company said.

The company’s first recall, announced in July, followed a report in Wired Magazine showing hackers could manipulate a Jeep Cherokee using a laptop in a remote location. The hackers were able to control the SUV’s electronic control units, cutting power as it drove on a Missouri freeway.

The earlier recall covered 1.4 million cars and trucks equipped with a UConnect radio system made by Harman International Industries Inc. In both cases, Fiat Chrysler said it doesn’t consider the flaws as a safety-related defect. There are no injuries related to the software vulnerability, and the company said it isn’t aware of any complaints, warranty claims or crashes.

The latest recall wasn’t prompted by any new hacking incident, said Eric Mayne, a spokesman for Fiat Chrysler, whose U.S. operations are based in
Auburn Hills, Michigan.

“We’re always looking at the performance of our vehicles,” Mayne said. “When we noticed this situation, we responded.”

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