Fiat Chrysler is recalling more than 162,000 of its Pacifica minivans worldwide over a software glitch that could cause the vehicles to stall while driving. The announcement on Friday (12 January) comes after multiple minivan owners filed complaints last year, saying their vehicles abruptly shut off while driving including, in some cases, at highway speeds.

The company found that "under a rare set of conditions" the vehicle's engine control module (ECM) could "incorrectly assess the engine's operating status", causing it to stall.

"Most such events known to FCA US reportedly occurred at idle or while starting, turning, or driving at low, steady speeds," the automaker said. "Further, most were singular events that occurred over thousands of miles of travel, and customers were able to restart their vehicles immediately afterward."

One accident has already potentially been linked to the issue, but no injuries or deaths the automaker said.

The recall covers the gas-powered 2017 Chrysler minivans and does not include the hybrid plug-in versions. An estimated 153,869 minivans in the US will be subject to the recall in addition to about 7,457 in Canada, 974 in Mexico and another 245 in other countries.

Owners have been asked to bring in their vehicles to Chrysler dealers to have updated engine control software installed for free before 1 April.

The voluntary recall comes two months after Pacifica owners started filing complaints with safety regulators late last year saying their minivans were suddenly stopping on the road.

In November 2017, the Center for Auto Safety (CAS) filed a petition calling on the US government's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to investigate the issue and order a recall of the 2017 vans in question after over 50 people complained of the stalling problems.

At the time, Chrysler acknowledged the complaints and said it was looking into the matter but had not found any information signalling a consistent or widespread problem. It added that it was unaware of any accidents or injuries associated with the problem.

"We are pleased to see Chrysler respond appropriately by conducting a full recall of the Pacifica Minivans, because stalling is an incredibly dangerous condition that puts the lives of drivers, passengers, and others sharing the road at risk," CAS executive director Jason Levine sid in a statement. "We look forward to seeing Chrysler undertake a model recall by rapidly contacting all affected owners to ensure this remedy is applied to every single vehicle before this defect results in a serious injury or death."

The latest recall also comes after Fiat Chrysler recalled nearly 50,000 non-hybrid versions of the 2017 and 2018 Chrysler Pacifica minivan over defective seat belts in September 2017. In June, the company also issued a recall for all 2017 Pacifica Hybrids for battery issues.