Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has issued a safety recall for 1.4 million cars and trucks in the United States after hackers demonstrated that they could remotely control their systems while they are in operation.

The recall came after cybersecurity experts Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek remotely commandeered a Jeep Cherokee to demonstrate the vulnerability of the vehicles' electronic systems.

US safety officials say it is the first time vehicles have been recalled because of concerns over cyber security. 

"The recall aligns with an ongoing software distribution that insulates connected vehicles from remote manipulation, which, if unauthorised, constitutes criminal action," said FCA US, the American arm of the Italian auto group, in a statement.

Working from laptop computers at home, the two men were able to enter the Jeep's electronics via its online entertainment system, changing its speed and braking capability and manipulating the radio and windshield wipers.

After the report, Chrysler said that it was offering a free software patch for vulnerable vehicles even while saying it had no first-hand knowledge of hacking incidents.

The recall announced yesterday involves a broad range of Dodge, Jeep, Ram and Chrysler cars and trucks produced between 2013 and 2015 that have radios vulnerable to hacking.

Customers with recalled vehicles will receive a USB device which they can use to update the vehicle's software.

FCA said it had already taken security steps at the network level for the vehicles' communications systems "to prevent the type of remote manipulation demonstrated in a recent media report."