Although Tesla is responsible for bringing them to the mainstream, over-the-air software updates are still in their infancy for the automotive sector. This approach is seen as a more efficient way to provide updates and install new security protocols without running to the dealership.
But as Fiat-Chrysler recently learned, this approach can also bring added notoriety to previously unknown problems.
Earlier this week the company looked to update its UConnect infotainment system, but due to an unforeseen conflict with the SiriusXM Travel Link service that is part of the system, many customers saw their Uconnect re-updating every 45-60 seconds.
This meant vehicle owners not only had to deal with an annoying flashing screen in the middle console, but had limited or no access to music, Bluetooth functionality, internal temperature controls, navigation features or back-up cameras.
The SOS feature that allows drivers to notify emergency services in the event of a crash was also out of commission. And, oddly enough, the heated seat function in many of the vehicles couldn’t be turned off.
Also getting vehicle owners hot is the fact that most of the effected vehicles are less than a year old, and they were never given the option of declining the software update.
Regardless, you have to give the folks at UConnect some credit. In the midst of an onslaught of Twitter rants from outraged Jeep, Dodge and Ram truck owners, they still had the guts to send out a poll question asking customers which UConnect feature they used the most. It generated some interesting responses that we won’t get into here.
FCA’s official response to the problem was to temporarily shut the system down for 48 hours, which put an end to the constant reboots, but still left vehicle owners without access to UConnect.
The system is set for reboot Friday afternoon.