September 27, 2011 Autos Insider | Feds investigate Jeep Liberty air bags deploying without warning | The Detroit News
Feds investigate Jeep Liberty air bags deploying without warning
Federal regulators said Tuesday they've opened an investigation into nearly 400,000 Jeep Liberty SUVs over reports the air bags deployed without warning, causing five injuries.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said in a notice posted on its website that it had opened a preliminary investigation into 387,356 2002-2003 Jeep Liberty SUVs after receiving seven complaints, including from four owners alleging that the driver frontal air bag improperly deployed and from three owners alleging that both the driver and passenger frontal air bags suddenly deployed.
Chrysler spokesman Vince Muniga said the automaker "is cooperating fully with the NHSTA."
Five of the seven complaints alleged an injury incident — totaling five injuries in all. NHTSA has no reports of crashes as a result of the air bag deployments.
Six of the seven owners stated that their vehicle was being operated on a roadway — while three said they were traveling on a highway at speeds of 45 mph or greater when the air bag deployed.
Some owners noted that the air bag light had been illuminated, or had intermittently illuminated prior to the deployment.
In addition, NHTAS has received 32 early warning field reports involving 10 injury incidents. The field reports indicated that inspections of the vehicles did not reveal any evidence of exterior vehicle impacts or damage that could have reasonably caused the air bags to deploy.
NHTSA has opened several investigations into the issue of airbags deploying without warning.
Under government pressure, Ford Motor Co. in April agreed to recall more than 1.2 million additional F-150 pickups after more than 200 reports of sudden unexpected air bag deployments. In total, Ford recalled about 1.5 million vehicles in North America to address the complaints.
NHTSA said it had reports of 98 injuries, including chipped teeth, fractured arms and burns.
Unlike some Chrysler complaints, the Ford incidents happened soon after the vehicle was started — not at highway speeds.