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September 19. 2011
NHTSA intensifies probe into 200K Jeep Liberty SUVs

Washington— Federal investigators upgraded an investigation into 200,000 Jeep Liberty SUVs over concerns that severe rust in cold-weather states could spark a loss of control.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said in a notice posted on its website Monday that it is upgrading an investigation to an engineering analysis into 200,000 2004-05 Liberty SUVs.

NHTSA reported there are 22 complaints alleging failure of either the right or left rear lower control arm because of excessive corrosion — and all came in one of the 21 "salt belt" states, where road salt is used in the winter, including Michigan, Ohio, New York and Pennsylvania.

Three complaints reported a loss of vehicle control because of the rear lower control arm failure.

Chrysler told NHTSA it is studying the issue, looking for "possible root causes of the unusual lower control arm corrosion and define possible consequences to motor vehicle safety."

Chrysler told NHTSA there are no reports of crashes or injuries, but said up to 95 warranty claims may be related to the issue.

"We are cooperating fully with this engineering analysis by NHTSA," Chrysler spokesman Vince Muniga said Monday.

NHTSA has taken an intense interest in rust issues over the last two years, opening numerous investigations into older rusting vehicles.

NHTSA's original investigation into the Liberty opened in April covered 370,000 vehicles from the 2002-05 model years. The upgraded investigation was limited after data showed most of the complaints from the 2004-05 model years.

The models under investigation were built at Chrysler's Toledo Assembly plant.

From The Detroit News: Autos Insider | NHTSA intensifies probe into 200K Jeep Liberty SUVs | The Detroit News
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