Recall Alert: Jeep Grand Cherokee & Jeep Liberty Fire Hazard
Chrysler Group LLC Responds to NHTSA Recall Letter
June 4, 2013 , Auburn Hills, Mich. -
NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) has issued a recall request letter proposing that Chrysler Group recall the Jeep Grand Cherokee in model years 1993 to 2004 and the Jeep Liberty in model years 2002 to 2007 (a total of approximately 2.7 million vehicles).
Chrysler Group has been working and sharing data with the Agency on this issue since September 2010. The company does not agree with NHTSA’s conclusions and does not intend to recall the vehicles cited in the investigation. The subject vehicles are safe and are not defective.
We believe NHTSA’s initial conclusions are based on an incomplete analysis of the underlying data, and we are committed to continue working with the Agency to resolve this disagreement.
“The safety of drivers and passengers has long been the first priority for Chrysler brands and that commitment remains steadfast,” said Sergio Marchionne, Chairman and CEO of Chrysler Group LLC. “The company stands behind the quality of its vehicles. All of us remain committed to continue working with NHTSA to provide information confirming the safety of these vehicles.”
Chrysler Group’s position on this matter is clear.
These vehicles met and exceeded all applicable requirements of the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, including FMVSS 301, pertaining to fuel-system integrity. Our analysis shows the incidents, which are the focus of this request, occur less than once for every million years of vehicle operation. This rate is similar to comparable vehicles produced and sold during the time in question.
Chrysler Group stands behind the quality and safety of its vehicles. It conducts voluntary recalls when they are warranted, and in most cases, before any notice or investigation request from NHTSA.
Customers who have questions or concerns can call the Chrysler Group’s customer care line: 1-800-334-9200.
Nitro Year: 2007 (1 of 113,000 sold)
Nitro Model: R/T 4X4 Stone White
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A fatal fire involving a 1999 Jeep Grand Cherokee that was struck by a pick-up truck, according to NHTSA.
In a rare rebuff of the U.S. government, Chrysler Group is refusing a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration request for a recall of 2.7 million SUVs.
The government agency says the gas tank design used in 1993 to 2004 Jeep Grand Cherokees and 2002 to 2007 Jeep Libertys is unsafe.
It is the first time since 1996 that an automaker has challenged a recall demand from the safety agency. That case, also involving Chrysler, was over the seat belt system on 91,000 cars. Chrysler -- which was an independent U.S. company at the time -- won a federal court decision on that dispute two years later.
Opinion: Chrysler is Right to Refuse the Jeep Recall Request
Chrysler is certainly not going to win any popularity contests with its decision to refuse to voluntarily recall millions of Jeep Grand Cherokees and Jeep Liberty SUVs, but when you start to examine the facts, I believe Chrysler made the right decision.
Standing up for what’s right is tough, especially in an overly litigious society in which lawyers toss their own verbal firebombs, fanning the flames of Jeeps and parading burn victims into court hoping for a big cut of the proceeds.
Right now, Chrysler is getting sued, I’ve been told, by people claiming they were victims to defective gas tanks and poorly designed vehicles that burst into flames at the first sign of a tailwind. A recall could bolster those cases.
And despite the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration requesting Chrysler agree to a voluntary recall of 2.7 million Jeeps this week, Chrysler continues to say no.
I understand the dramatic footage being shown around the world and the public’s oversimplified approach to blame a profit-hungry corporation for all of its ills. Still, Chrysler is right to tell the government to hit the brakes.
Don’t fix what ain’t broke
First of all, the request came from the U.S. government, not the pope. The government is not infallible, something it seems to go out of its way to prove nearly all the time.
Second, the recall is voluntary. That means it’s Chrysler’s decision, not the feds’. And Chrysler has a proven track record of recalling vehicles when there are flaws. Today, Chrysler
Chrysler Group and NHTSA Resolve Recall Request June 18, 2013 , Auburn Hills, Mich. -
Chrysler Group LLC and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have resolved their differences with respect to NHTSA’s request to recall 1993-2004 Jeep® Grand Cherokee and 2002-07 Jeep Liberty vehicles.
As a result of the agreement, Chrysler Group will conduct a voluntary campaign with respect to the vehicles in question that, in addition to a visual inspection of the vehicle will, if necessary, provide an upgrade to the rear structure of the vehicle to better manage crash forces in low-speed impacts.
Chrysler Group’s analysis of the data confirms that these vehicles are not defective and are among the safest in the peer group. Nonetheless, Chrysler Group recognizes that this matter has raised concerns for its customers and wants to take further steps, in coordination with NHTSA, to provide additional measures to supplement the safety of its vehicles.
Chrysler Group regards safety as a paramount concern and does not compromise on the safety of our customers and their families.
Nitro Year: 2007 (1 of 113,000 sold)
Nitro Model: R/T 4X4 Stone White
CAT-BACK Exhaust, CAI, Projector Head Lamps
Fully-Equipped w/all factory options
Chrysler to Provide Trailer Hitches to Late-Model Jeeps
Chrysler said today that due to customers’ “raised concerns” it would add or replace trailer hitches on some older model Jeeps now at the center of a safety debate between the automaker and the U.S. government.
Mike Palese, a Chrysler spokesman, told ABC News today that the trailer hitch would “provide more ability to absorb some crash forces” in rear-impact accidents.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration had been seeking a recall of the Jeep Grand Cherokee, model years 1993 to 2004 and Jeep Liberty, model years 2002 to 2007.
In its initial findings, the NHTSA said that at least 51 people had died in the vehicles involving rear-impact crashes and fires. The problem, according to the government, is the location of the fuel tank.
It is situated behind the rear axle, and slightly below the bumper. That makes it vulnerable to rupture when the vehicle is hit from behind.
Chrysler’s action covers fewer model years of the Grand Cherokee, only those from 1993 to 1998, leaving out some vehicles covered by the government’s initial recall request. Chrysler told ABC News that owners of those vehicles do not need fixes, unless they have an after-market trailer hitch on the car. Then they should come to the dealer for an inspection and possible replacement of the hitch.
The company still insists that the government’s analysis is incomplete and the vehicles are safe and have no defect. The automaker called today’s move a “voluntary campaign,” not a recall.
Clarence Ditlow, executive director of the Center for Auto Safety, said his group was “skeptical.”
“It is a safety recall,” he said. “We’re no longer arguing over whether there is a recall but what the remedy is. [The] NHTSA has the ability to approve the remedy. What NHTSA needs to do is test the remedy.”
Ditlow said his group also wanted Chrysler to expand the recall to include Jeep Cherokees, model years 1993 to 2001. Those vehicles have the gas tank in the same location as the ones subject to the automaker’s voluntary campaign. The NHTSA had been investigating that model but had not asked Chrysler to recall it.
Ditlow’s group had wanted a shield over the fuel tank as well as a new check valve system to shut off the flow of gasoline if the filler hose is yanked out of the tank in a crash.
Chrysler said it would not be adding shields over the fuel tank or changing the fuel nozzle.
In a statement today, the NHTSA said it was pleased with the actions taken by Chrysler.
“Consumers impacted by the safety recall and customer satisfaction campaign should have their vehicles serviced promptly. … We will continue our investigation into this issue,” the group said.
WASHINGTON, DC (WUSA) - Our consumer team has reported for over a year about the safety of certain late model Jeeps.
Chrysler has agreed to recall some of the 2.7 million SUVs where the plastic gas tanks are linked to crashes where people burned to death. But not all of them.
Only 1.56 million of the Jeep SUVs are actually part of the recall. They are the 1993 to 1998 Jeep Grand Cherokees. And, the 2002 to 2007 Jeep Liberty models.
Chrysler will install a trailer hitch assembly on these models. The company now says it will protect the gas tank.
But the 1.2 million 1999 to 2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee models will be part of a Customer Service Campaign.
So, Chrysler will inspect your SUV and if it has a non-factory installed hitch on it, the company will replace it. If your SUV doesn't have a hitch, it won't get one. Chrysler says the fuel systems in these models are different than the ones they agreed to recall.
As part of the recall, Chrysler did not agree that these vehicles were defective. The company maintains its vehicles are safe.
But, in a letter Chrysler sent to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration yesterday, the company raised some questions about its own fix.
Writing to NHTSA, "The trailer hitch cannot and will not mitigate the risk of the high energy rear collision identified in your recall."
It's something that concerns auto safety advocates who first brought this gas tank issue to the government.
Clarence Ditlow says, "It doesn't prevent the striking vehicle from going under and rupturing the fuel tank. In addition, it doesn't allow for support of the fuel tank itself and shielding. The filler hose can still pull loose. All the defects that were demonstrated in the crash test, ahh, are not corrected by this remedy."
So, Clarence Ditlow and the consumer non-profit Center for Auto Safety are urging Chrysler to recall all of the late model Jeep Grand Cherokees.
And, they want NHTSA to crash test the trailer hitch fixes as part of their continuing investigation.
Chrysler says that trailer hitch fix is only designed to protect the gas tank[ in low speed crashes.
Four months after Chrysler agreed to recall about 1.6 million 2002-7 Jeep Liberty and 1993-98 Jeep Grand Cherokee models over rear-impact fire danger, owners still have not been told by the company to bring their vehicles to dealerships for repairs.
Chrysler told the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in June that Jeep owners would be notified in July about the recall. That hasn’t happened.
“Preparations continue to implement the announced actions,” Eric Mayne, a Chrysler spokesman, wrote in an email. “Customers will be advised when to schedule vehicle inspections with their dealers.”
He did not provide additional information.
The agency, which pressured Chrysler to issue the recall, will not say whether it agrees with Chrysler’s plan to use a trailer hitch to protect the gas tank, or whether it will act upon a request from the Center for Auto Safety to conduct crash testing to determine if that solution will protect occupants. The agency has offered no new comments on the recall, Nathan Naylor, a spokesman for the safety agency, wrote in an email.
Four months is “an extraordinarily long wait” for vehicle owners, Allan Kam, a safety consultant in Bethesda, Md., who once served as N.H.T.S.A.'s senior enforcement lawyer, said in an interview. “Maybe the adequacy of the remedy is at issue in some way.”
Chrysler says that trailer hitches will protect the gas tanks, which are mounted behind the rear axle and are vulnerable to rear impacts, although Chrysler told the agency that a trailer hitch “cannot and will not mitigate the risk of high-energy rear collisions” but would “incrementally improve the performance” in “certain types of low-speed impacts.” There are no federal safety standards for trailer hitches.
A top Chrysler engineer testified in a deposition that the trailer hitch was not designed to protect the gas tank.
N.H.T.S.A. says it is aware of 51 deaths in rear-impact crashes that resulted in fires.
Seven months after Chrysler Group promised the government it would recall 1.56 million older Jeeps for what federal officials say is a potential fire hazard, the automaker says it only now is preparing to build the needed repair parts.
Chrysler and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration both are disinclined to say much about the lag.
Chrysler -- which vigorously insists there's no safety problem in the Jeeps -- says it now "has finalized replacement-part design and is initiating the tooling process to deliver the required volume." In a December letter to owners of the Jeeps, the car company had warned that the parts "do not exist," but it was trying to come up with them.
In a statement to USA TODAY, the car company said, "Launching a safety recall demands complex engineering and close collaboration with NHTSA well before we accumulate replacement parts. Chrysler Group takes seriously its commitment to customer safety."
The parts involved seemingly are simple -- trailer hitches like those installed as original equipment on the 1993 - 1998 Jeep Grand Cherokee and 2002 -2007 Jeep Liberty SUVs.
When it agreed with NHTSA last June to recall the vehicles, Chrysler said that it and the agency agreed that adding trailer hitches to Jeeps that don't have them, or have non-standard hitches, was intended only to " incrementally improve the performance of certain (Jeeps) in certain types of low-speed impacts."
NHTSA declines to say if seven months is too long, or whether it is likely to sue the car company in federal court to force quicker action.
The agency only would say, "NHTSA does not comment on the details of open investigations. Throughout this process, NHTSA has been in close communication with Chrysler." NHTSA says it will publish the results of its analysis, but won't say when that might be.
If the months have been spent designing a super-safe hitch assembly that shields the gas tanks, the time lapse could be overlooked, according to Clarence Ditlow, head of the Center for Auto Safety.
If not, he says his advocacy organization is inclined to "fight it."
A super-shield hitch is unlikely, given the reference to incremental improvement in low-speed crashes in the original deal with NHTSA.
Chrysler's comment to USA TODAY that it is working on tooling the hitches is progress of a sort -- especially for owners who suspected the worst when they got the December letter saying no parts were available for the recall.
NHTSA argues, and Chrysler vehemently disagrees, that the Jeeps' rear-mounted fuel tanks make them more vulnerable to leaks and fires in rear-end collisions.
Last June, the agency asked Chrysler to recall 2.7 million Jeeps. In a rare public showdown with regulators, Chrysler refused. The automaker published a "white paper" with statistics showing the Jeeps' involvement in rear-crash fires was insignificantly different than other vehicles with rear-mounted gas tanks.
Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne and NHTSA's then-administrator, David Stickland, in a last-minute phone call, personally negotiated a deal to recall fewer Jeeps.
As part of that, Chrysler also isn't required to say the vehicles have a safety problem or are faulty, which most recalls require the car maker to do.
At the time the recalled Jeeps were built, the government required vehicle fuel systems to remain intact when hit from behind at 30 mph. The current rule is much tougher: Fuel systems can't leak after a 50-mph rear crash, and the testing for that is done using a device that concentrates the force of the crash more than the test device used during the 30-mph regulation.
The most infamous rear-crash fire recall is the 1970s Ford Pinto. Ditlow says that in that case, the government required Ford to install components that made the cars meet newer, stricter safety regulations than those in effect when the cars were built.
Chrysler to Recall Fire-Prone Jeeps to Add Trailer Hitches
After announcing a recall last June over a rear-impact collision fire hazard, Chrysler is finally preparing to recall nearly 1.6 million 1993-98 Jeep Grand Cherokees and 2002-7 Jeep Liberty S.U.V.'s. The fix the automaker is using to correct the problem – the vehicles’ fuel tanks are exposed to rear impacts – is controversial: Chrysler will install trailer hitches to protect the fuel tanks and reduce the chance of fires caused by rear-impact collisions.
“Chrysler Group has finalized replacement part design and is initiating the tooling process to deliver the required volume,” Chrysler said in a statement Thursday evening. “Launching a safety recall demands complex engineering and close collaboration with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration well before we accumulate replacement parts. Chrysler Group takes seriously its commitment to customer safety.”
In addition, letters that Chrysler plans to send to owners have been posted on N.H.T.S.A.'s website.
Eric Mayne, the Chrysler spokesman who issued the company’s statement, declined to answer questions about the timing of the recall.
Nathan Naylor, a spokesman for N.H.T.S.A., said in a telephone interview that the investigation into Chrysler’s remedy was continuing.
Chrysler agreed to the recall under pressure from the safety agency, which contended that the vehicles were more likely than similar models from competitors to catch fire when struck from the rear. The reason is that the Jeeps’ gas tanks are behind the rear axle, making them more vulnerable to rear impact. Chrysler denied that allegation, telling the agency that the vehicles were safe.
Consumer groups, including the Center for Auto Safety, have questioned the effectiveness of using a hitch, which is designed to tow trailers, as a protective device for rear-impact collisions. The center asked N.H.T.S.A. to conduct crash tests of the proposed remedy, but the safety agency had not commented on whether it would.
In a 2011 deposition during a wrongful-death suit involving a rear-impact fire in a 1996 Grand Cherokee, François J. Castaing, Chrysler’s vice president for engineering in 1988-96, said, “The tow package does not protect the tank.”
NHTSA closes investigation into 2.7M Jeep SUVs over fire risks
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is closing its long-running investigation into 2.7 million older Jeep SUVs over concerns that gas tanks mounted in the rear could pose a unreasonable risk of fires in rear-end crashes.
The government also is dropping its request for Chrysler Group LLC to recall the SUVs.
“The agency has been in close communication with Chrysler and has no reservations at this time with their announced actions to move forward,” NHTSA said in a statement. “Consumers should have their vehicles serviced promptly once they receive final notification from Chrysler. NHTSA will continue to monitor consumer outreach as the recall process continues.”
The federal auto safety agency informed Chrysler of the decision late this week, officials briefed on the probe said. NHTSA’s formal closing of the investigation will come in the next few weeks with the release of a closing report.
“Chrysler Group commends the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for the diligence demonstrated over the course of this investigation. We share NHTSA’s commitment to safety,” the automaker said in a statement.
The decision marks a victory for Chrysler, which in June refused to issue a widespread and costly recall, which the government requested in early June.
Chrysler did, however, agree June 18 to recall 1.56 million 1992-98 Grand Cherokees and 2002-07 Libertys to install some trailer hitches that would protect the gas tank.
NHTSA said in June the SUV’s gas tank could rupture and catch fire when the Jeeps in question are hit from behind. NHTSA cited reports of 51 deaths in rear-end accidents in which older Jeep gas tanks leaked and caught fire in urging a recall to fix the risk of fires.
Chrysler said last week it was still preparing to begin fixing vehicles it had agreed to recall. Last year, it estimated the cost of that recall at $151 million.
Since the recall was announced, NHTSA had continued to investigate the case, which it first opened in August 2010.
Friday’s announcement came at the end of NHTSA Administrator David Strickland’s four-year-tenure as the nation’s top auto safety regulator.
Under the announcement in June, Chrysler is also conducting a service campaign for about 1.2 million 1999-2004 Grand Cherokees that includes replacing aftermarket trailer hitches. But the automaker is not installing them on vehicles without hitches.
In July, Strickland disputed Chrysler’s contention that its decision to install trailer hitches on some Jeeps won’t help protect gas tanks — which are located behind the rear axle — in some high-speed crashes.
Chrysler itself, while defending the safety of the Jeeps, said the trailer hitch will not eliminate the risk caused by high-speed rear collisions. The hitch will provide “incremental improvement in the crash energy management in low- to moderate-speed rear collisions,” Chrysler said in a letter to NHTSA in June.
Chrysler said the trailer hitch assembly will protect the gas tank, which is between the rear axle and bumper, in rear-end crashes. Dealers will install the hitches. Jeeps that already have factory-installed or Mopar hitches won’t need to get a new ones, but those with neither a hitch nor a non-factory installed hitches will get new ones.
NHTSA said at least 32 fatal rear-impact fire crashes involving Grand Cherokees have resulted in 44 deaths, and at least five fatal rear-impact crashes involving the Liberty have resulted in seven fatalities. Comparing rates of incidents with similar vehicles, NHTSA said the Grand Cherokee and Liberty “are poor performers.” Chrysler said that wasn’t true.
Chrysler noted that fires happen in all vehicles after crashes. “According to NHTSA’s own data, on average, more than 40 individuals each day are exposed to a post-crash fire, and approximately four of these individuals will not survive,” Chrysler’s letter said. “While each of these cases is tragic, they would not have all been prevented by different struck vehicle designs.”
The Center for Auto Safety, a nonprofit founded by safety crusader Ralph Nader and the Consumers Union, repeatedly urged Chrysler to recall the vehicles and also urged NHTSA to crash test the trailer hitch remedy.
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