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A fix is rolling out for Chrysler’s rebooting screen problem, but some car batteries have already died

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The company — and its customers — are not out of the woods yet

After spending the better part of the week dealing with endlessly rebooting Uconnect infotainment systems, Fiat Chrysler customers across the Northeast are finally seeing their cars mostly return to normal. A majority of the customers who spoke to The Verge earlier this week about their malfunctioning vehicles have reported back that the maddening reboot loop has stopped. According to numerous exchanges with the Uconnect customer support account on Twitter, other customers are seeing the same thing. For some it’s come too late, as the constant rebooting has drained their vehicles’ batteries completely.

The problem began over the weekend after an over-the-air update apparently went out to certain 2017 and 2018 model year cars. After that, something went wrong with SiriusXM’s Travel Link feature. Travel Link surfaces local news, weather, and other alerts in real time, and for some reason — it’s still not clear exactly what, since FCA is being vague about the specifics, and SiriusXM has not responded to multiple requests for comment — it started causing vehicles with 8.4-inch screen Uconnect 4C NAV systems to start rebooting every 45 to 60 seconds.

Based on reports from customers who spoke to The Verge, as well ones posted to Twitter, it appears that either FCA or SiriusXM started sending out a “signal” that disables SiriusXM Travel Link sometime Wednesday afternoon. Those who have received the signal have reported that their vehicles are finally free of the reboot cycle. Those who haven’t are being advised by the Uconnect support account to turn their vehicle off, turn it back on again in an “open space where it will receive a solid satellite signal,” and leave it running for at least 15 to 20 minutes.

This photo, from Jeep customer James Moeller, is what the Travel Link section of Uconnect looks like after a vehicle receives the signal that stops the reboot problem. FCA says it’s trying to find a way to re-enable Travel Link without starting the problem again.
Photo: James Moeller

Unfortunately, while many customers have now been spared from the endless reboot issue, the fix is not going smoothly for everyone. Joe Sapienza, a customer from Long Island, New York who we spoke to yesterday, said the infotainment system on his 2018 Jeep Compass Latitude was rebooting even when he was out of the car and the key was out of the ignition. He and others have been concerned about the impact on their vehicles’ batteries. They probably have good reason, too: a number of customers have reported on Twitter that their batteries have already died because of the issue.

Other customers are reporting problems with charging devices via their USB ports after the fix, as well as an inability to use Apple CarPlay. Francesco Canali, a customer from Massachusetts, says via email that his Uconnect system is “noticeably slower” after the fix. He also says CarPlay is only working “maybe 1/4 times,” and that his phone is charging slowly. “It would probably be faster to plug it into a potato,” he writes.

FCA says it’s working on a longer-term fix, meaning it’s trying to find a way to re-enable Travel Link without sending these vehicles back into a reboot cycle. But even though this temporary fix is finally rolling out, customers are still upset at the way the problem was handled. FCA offered them little to no information all week, and instead left the entire troubleshooting operation to the Uconnect support team. Overwhelmed, ill-prepared, or both, the Uconnect team sometimes booted customers to clueless dealers and promised follow-up calls and messages that never happened, according to direct message conversations viewed by The Verge.

All this left both customers and dealers in the dark, and since the problem is exclusive to essentially brand new cars, the lack of information has irked a lot of people who recently made a major financial commitment to one of the automotive giant’s sub-brands.

“I have no confidence in my vehicle now considering the poor customer service and QC from FCA, and am regretting my purchase,” writes Canali, who bought his 2017 Dodge Challenger just two months ago.