Chrysler Delays Jeep Recall Over Fuel Tank Fires

Chrysler agreed to recall nearly 1.6 million vehicles earlier this year, due to a potential risk of fires that may occur after rear end accidents. However, more than four months have now passed and the automaker still has not issued the recall.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued a letter to Chrysler in June, calling for the recall of nearly 2.7 million vehicles after potential problems were identified with 2002–2007 Jeep Liberty and 1993–2004 Jeep Grand Cherokees.

The letter cited 51 deaths that occurred following rear-impact collisions in which Jeep vehicles caught fire. The government agency questioned the safety of the fuel tank positioned behind the rear axle.

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Federal regulators and other safety groups, including the Center for Auto Safety, say the positioning of the axle places the tank at risk of spontaneous combustion during rear-impact collision.

Vehicles also face concerns about potential leaking gas tanks that may put the SUVs at risk of fire after rear-impact crash. The safety area behind the rear axle is often referred to as the crush zone by vehicle safety engineers.

Chrysler Has Resisted Recall Efforts

Chrysler initially refused to issue the recall in spite of the pressure by the NHTSA, Center for Auto Safety and other safety groups. The company originally maintained that it did not agree with the government’s determination that the vehicles are unsafe and refused to issue the recall.

Eventually, Chrysler agreed to the Jeep recall, offering an alternative solution to fixing the problem. The recall Chrysler agreed to involved nearly half of the vehicles both the NHTSA and the Center for Auto Safety said should be recalled.

Chrysler proposed installing trailer hitches on the back of the vehicles to protect the gas tanks during collision. The proposal was made despite earlier statements the company made suggesting the trailer hitch wouldn’t fix the problem, but only improve performance in certain low-speed impact crashes.

The company said the NHTSA provided an “incomplete analysis of the underlying data” in the matter.

There are no federal safety regulations in place to dictate the safety of trailer hitches.

Many speculate Chrysler agreed to the recall to avoid further action by the NHTSA, which has the authority to deem the vehicles defective. This would force public hearings, thus releasing the findings of the government’s investigation into the matter.

A Chrysler spokesperson indicates the preparations continue concerning the implementation of the recall and customers will be notified, but did not offer further details concerning when those details would be release.

The Center for Auto Safety accused Chrysler of making profits a higher priority than safety when it was resisting the recall. Other critics suspect the proposed trailer hitch solution may be inadequate to rectify the problem, as originally suspected.

Owner’s of affected models were scheduled to receive notification letters in July, but most consumers have not been contacted regarding the recall to date.

Photo courtesy of halidCan! (: via Flickr Creative Commons

Image Credit: |Photo courtesy of halidCan! (: via Flickr Creative Commons

2 Comments

  • GaryMarch 31, 2014 at 4:14 pm

    I would think Chrysler would satisfy the request and move forward. When someone is reluctant to address an issue, it raises doubt with consumers. would they rather pay law suits ?

  • CarlosNovember 13, 2013 at 4:50 pm

    I am a loyal Jeep owner and love my Liberty. However, this delay is causing me to question the reason for the delay and the workability of the fix. I think we Jeep owners deserve to know the reasons for the delay and a timeline for the implementation of a proper fix.

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