Starting in 2010 most Jeep and Dodge models began offering active headrests as part of the restraint system. They’re called “active head restraint system headrests.” When there is a rear-end impact the headrests deploy to help prevent whiplash injuries. But now there is a lawsuit over these active headrests deploying randomly with no warning. These Dodge and Jeep headrests are exploding according to the class-action lawsuit.
The headrests are not supposed to deploy unless there is a collision. But the lawsuit says that because of this happening drivers become victims of the headrests going off in the back of their heads. The list of affected Jeep and Dodge vehicles is pretty lengthy.
Those Jeep and Dodge models named in the lawsuit are:
2010-2012 Jeep Liberty, 2010-2017 Jeep Patriot/Compass, 2011-2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee, 2010-2018 Dodge Journey, 2010-2011 Dodge Nitro, 2010-2012 Dodge Caliber, 2010-2018 Dodge Caravan, 2011-2018 Dodge Durango, 2010-2014 Chrysler Sebring/Avenger.
These headrests are made up of a padded front and the back according to carcomplaints. A spring-loaded mechanism keeps the headrest from deploying. It is a hook that is hooked to a metal striker pin. Once the sensors in the vehicle detect a rear-end collision the hook pulls the pin. The spring-loaded headrest then flings forward. At least that is how it is supposed to happen.
One plaintiff in the lawsuit says he bought a new Jeep Grand Cherokee in 2015. Two years later the headrest randomly activated. It struck the driver in the back of the head. He stopped the car, then proceeded home because he was starting to get a bad headache. Later he was diagnosed by a physician with a concussion.
Because the plastic bracket had failed it released the headrest unexpectedly
Examining the headrest mechanism he found it had deployed because the pin had been torn out of its bracket. That pin latches the front of the headrest closed. But because the plastic bracket had failed it released the headrest unexpectedly.
Resetting the headrest required the owner to take it to a dealer. The owner expected that the warranty would take care of the costs. Once he got to the dealer he was told he would have to pay for a new headrest because the defective one looked to have been tampered with. Besides the inconvenience and time to take it to the dealer, he also lost three days of work from the concussion. The cost of the new headrest was $877.
NHTSA says it received almost 100 complaints
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says it has received almost 100 complaints with similar descriptions. In 35 of those complaints, drivers say the headrest randomly deployed. In about 25 cases owners say the plastic brackets inside of the headrests failed. For 15 complaints there were injuries sustained by other occupants in the vehicle to their heads, faces, and necks.
Those plastic brackets are alleged to be unsafe because they are made from cheap plastic. The suit alleges the brackets crack easily and then break. The lawsuit was filed in California and is attempting to compensate both owners and lessees of the vehicles listed above.