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Chrysler recalls 840,000 vehicles, mostly in U.S.

A Chrysler badge is pictured on a new car at a dealership in Vienna, Virginia April 26, 2012. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
A Chrysler badge is pictured on a new car at a dealership in Vienna, Virginia April 26, 2012. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

By Bernie Woodall

DETROIT (Reuters) - Chrysler Group LLC said on Wednesday it will recall 840,000 vehicles in the United States and other countries, mostly for active-restraint head rests that are possibly flawed.

Five separate recalls include nearly 500,000 cars and SUVs for the active-restaint head rest issue, and another 282,000 minivans for possible malfunctioning air bags, Chrysler said.

While Chrysler has improved its scores on third-party quality assessments such as Consumer Reports in recent years, it has issued 12 separate recalls since early June involving about 4 million vehicles.

This figure includes 2.7 million older Jeep models Chrysler recalled after initially resisting U.S. regulators from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Chrysler is majority-owned by Italy's Fiat SpA , which took over management of the Michigan-based company in 2009.

Chrysler spokesman Eric Mayne said the recalls are "an indication of our aggressive quality-control protocol."

Chrysler said there have been three reported accidents and one "minor" injury as a result of the air bag issue in the minivans and that it is not aware of any injuries or accidents related to the head rest issue.

Most of the affected vehicles are in the United States.

Included in the recalls announced on Wednesday are about 490,000 cars and SUVs that have potentially faulty micro computer components for head rests that are designed to move forward during rear-end crashes.

This recall affects 2011-2013 Chrysler Sebring, Chrysler 200, Dodge Avenger and Jeep Liberty vehicles, as well as 2011-2012 Dodge Nitro SUVs.

"The potentially faulty microcontrollers were installed in a supplied component," Chrysler said in a statement. "They entered the supply chain after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan caused a worldwide microcontroller shortage."

The maker of the component was TRW Automotive Holdings Corp. , according to papers filed by Chrysler with U.S. safety regulators.

Chrysler will fix the vehicles by upgrading a power module or the "occupant restraint control module," the automaker said in papers filed with NHTSA.

The recall affects 442,000 vehicles in the United States, 25,000 in Canada, 10,000 in Mexico and 12,000 outside North America.

Some 282,000 model year 2013 minivans in the United States, Canada, Mexico and outside North America are to be recalled because a side air bag software component was not programmed properly, which could affect proper deployment, Chrysler said. Of these, 224,250 are in the United States and 49,30 in Canada.

Affected models are 2013 Dodge Caravan, Chrysler Town & Country and Ram Cargo Van.

In another recall announced on Wednesday, Chrysler said 69,000 of its 2013 Ram 1500 pickup trucks with all-wheel drive may have an electronic stability control software glitch.

Chrysler said it has received a "small amount" of reports from dealers that the electronic stability control lamp was illuminated, indicating that the system was disabled.

There have been no reported accidents or injuries related to this issue, Chrysler said.

In the Ram 1500 recall, about 46,000 vehicles are in the United States, 21,000 in Canada, 1,400 in Mexico and 770 outside North America.

Two smaller recalls announced Wednesday affect 1,060 commercial vans and 226 minivans not yet in dealer hands for issues that have not led to any accidents or injuries, Chrysler said.

(Additional reporting by Deepa Seetharaman in Detroit; editing by Matthew Lewis and Dan Grebler)

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