By CHRISTOPHER JENSEN
c.2013 New York Times News Service
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Chrysler is recalling about 469,000 Jeeps worldwide, including about 295,000 in the United States, because the transmission could shift by itself from park into neutral, according to a report posted on the Web site of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The affected models are the Jeep Commanders for the 2006 to 2010 model years and Grand Cherokees from the 2005 to 2010 model years.
There have been 26 accidents and two injuries apparently related to the defect, a Chrysler spokesman, Eric Mayne, wrote in an e-mail.
Mayne said he was not aware of the severity of the injuries but said that they were not fatal.
Chrysler told the safety agency that a software problem could instruct the transmission to shift into neutral when the vehicle is being started.
The automaker first learned of the issue almost 16 months ago when the owner of a Grand Cherokee with the remote-start feature complained that the vehicle shifted into neutral.
Chrysler said that last December it finished developing new software that it hoped would correct the problem. In March, it completed testing the fix but it wasn’t until this month that the automaker concluded a recall was necessary.
Mayne said he could not immediately explain why the recall did not occur until this month.
Chrysler described the recall as voluntary, but once a manufacturer is aware of a safety problem it must tell the safety agency of its plan for the recall within five business days or face a civil fine.