Fiat-Chrysler Software Recall: What You Need to Know

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Automotive Editor

Armaan Almeida was an Automotive Editor who produced buying guides and sneak previews, in addition to publishing daily news stories and tracking monthly deals, incentives and pricing trends from Toyota, Nissan and Lexus.

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, Automotive Editor - July 24, 2015

The update is quick, easy and free and covers 8.4-inch equipped UConnect infotainment systems.

Earlier today, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) announced that the company would issue a recall covering 1.4 million of its vehicles due to a software loophole exploited by hackers earlier in the week. The hacking was documented and published via Wired Magazine on Tuesday. Here's a quick rundown of what you need to know.

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Here's What Happened

Two hackers, Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek hacked into a 2015 Jeep Cherokee's ECU--namely, the chip housed in the vehicle's head unit. It should be noted that the Cherokee which was hacked featured the brand's UConnect Infotainment System, which happens to be one of the best systems on the market--at any price. UConnect, which is IP-based, runs on Sprint's cellular network so that other Sprint devices can communicate with the vehicle.

Each UConnect-equipped vehicle has its own unique IP address, just like your computer. Some might question why a vehicle would need an IP address. The answer is simple: drivers yearn for improved connectivity and essentially want their smartphones to be integrated with their vehicles to access up-to-the-second information without taking their eyes off the road. And automakers are listening. A driver can get real-time traffic alerts in addition to finding the closest bar, restaurant or nightclub--all without fumbling with their cell phone.

UConnect Screen

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The Vehicles Affected

Roughly 1.4 million vehicles are affected by the recall. But not all FCA vehicles feature the 8.4-inch based UConnect System. The entry-level UConnect System which does not include access via your mobile phone features a 5-inch screen. Simply put: if your vehicle has the 8.4-inch navigation screen, the recall affects your vehicle.

What Owners Should Do

If you'd like a little more peace of mind, you can check to see if your vehicle qualifies for the recall by visiting the new UConnect Software Update Site. Simply type in your VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) into the designated field and you'll be on your way to getting your vehicle updated. The VIN number of your vehicle is located on the driver's side corner of your vehicle's dashboard and can be viewed from the windshield.

The update is completely free an can be done in the comfort of your garage or at your local FCA dealership.

More Than Just an FCA Issue

It's not just FCA vehicles that are susceptible to these cyber attacks. All vehicles which feature robust in-car connectivity and IP-based infotainment systems are prey for hackers. That means if your brand-new Chevy or Ford or Audi has a Wi-Fi hotspot built-in, it's possible for a hacker to gain access of your vehicle. That being said, automakers are working feverishly with the NHTSA to remedy the problems as swiftly as possible.

Please note that the hackers mentioned above were working directly with FCA to help identify and isolate possible issues via software patches over the course of nine months. The UConnect update was available on July 16th and owners of the affected vehicles were notified accordingly.

In the end if you're in the market for a new car, we wouldn't put too much stock into what you're seeing in the news. Cars today are safer than ever, and the cases of these cyber attacks are extremely isolated. If you still feel uneasy, you can always opt for model that doesn't feature in IP-based infotainment system, which are often found on lower trim levels.

, Automotive Editor

Armaan Almeida was an Automotive Editor who produced buying guides and sneak previews, in addition to publishing daily news stories and tracking monthly deals, incentives and pricing trends from Toyota, Nissan and Lexus.

Follow On: Google+ | Website

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