Woman says safety feature in headrest suddenly deployed while she was driving

ByTonya Simpson, Diane Wilson via WTVD logo
Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Elizabeth Skula is counting down the days until her family gets a little bigger.

She and her husband Josh live in Fuquay-Varina and are expecting their first child in September, but what they weren't expecting was what happened a few weeks ago.

"It made a really loud noise and I looked over and noticed it was separated," Skula said.

She's referring to the passenger side headrest in her 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee. She bought the vehicle in March and said she has not had any problems with it until now.

According to the owner's manual, "Active Head Restraints" are a safety feature and could deploy during a rear impact.

The manual said the headrests extend forward to minimize the gap between the back of the occupant's head to help prevent or reduce the extent of injuries. Skula said there was no impact when her headrest activated. "I didn't hit anything, nobody hit me, this should not have happened," she said.

Skula said she called the dealership about what happened, and they told her it was a manufacturer issue and she would need to call Chrysler, but she said the company would not help either. "They called back like four days later and said we're not fixing that, it's a pre-owned vehicle so we're not fixing it."

The Troubleshooter team discovered that Skula is not the only driver who has had this problem recently.

Heather Anderson drives a 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee. She said she was diving about 30 miles per hour when the headrest behind her suddenly deployed back in January.

Anderson said she suffered some minor injuries and that Chrysler initially told her it was an isolated incident and she would have to pay to fix the headrest. She said the company did eventually resolve the issue to her satisfaction and she agreed to not discuss specific details of that resolution.

When Chrysler told Skula she would have to pay for the repair, she decided to reach out to the Troubleshooter, who contacted Chrysler on her behalf. The next day, Skula said she got a call informing her that Chrysler would replace both headrests at no cost to her. "We are so happy and thank you guys so much for everything and helping us out with it," she said.

A representative from Chrysler sent this statement: This is not a safety issue and the matter has been resolved with the customer.