August 25, 2015 / 1:40 PM / 4 years ago

Safety agency probes Jeep Grand Cherokees after roll-away incidents

2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee are exhibited on a car dealership in New Jersey, July 24, 2015. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz

DETROIT (Reuters) - U.S. safety regulators have opened an investigation into reports from consumers that Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV’s (FCHA.MI)(FCAU.N) popular Jeep Grand Cherokee SUVs rolled away after being placed in the “park” position.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said on its website on Monday night it will open the investigation after receiving 14 consumer complaints, including ones involving five crashes that resulted in three injuries.

The investigation could lead to a recall of about 408,000 model year 2014 and 2015 Grand Cherokee SUVs in the United States, the agency said.

The model year 2014 and 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee vehicles are equipped with an electronic gear selector (shift-by-wire system), the NHTSA said. The gear is selected by pressing the shifter-paddle forward or backwards, but the shifter does not move along a gate path as with conventional gear selectors, it added.

The NHTSA said it has opened the probe to determine the scope, frequency and consequences of the potential defect.

Reporting by Bernie Woodall; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe

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