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No safety issues with older Fiat Chrysler automobiles minivans, says NHTSA


WASHINGTON - U.S. safety regulators Wednesday announced that they have concluded an investigation into stalling problems in older model Fiat Chrysler automobiles minivans, saying the issues would not likely lead to crashes.

Over 700 complaints were filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Chrysler about the problem in Chrysler Town and Country and Dodge Grand Caravan vans, with some drivers alleging that their minivans stalled during turns.

Turning down a petition filed by Brian Rosa of Union, New Jersey, the NHTSA said, "The stalls occurring in these vehicles only occur immediately after filling up the fuel tank and happen at low engine speeds. The failure rate is low."

Rosa had petitioned the agency in July of last year after his 2007 Dodge Grand Caravan began stalling after the gas tank was filled.

He said the van stalled on his wife without warning while she was driving on a freeway. "Stalling without warning represents an unreasonable risk to motor vehicle safety, and the agency should open a preliminary evaluation," he wrote.

NHTSA spent months reviewing the petition, but decided not to open a formal investigation.

In an e-mail message seeking comment from Rosa, the regulator noted that it has no reports of crashes or injuries from the problem.

The regulator opened an investigation into the matter last summer that could have led to the recall of 1.86 million Dodge Caravan, Dodge Grand Caravan, Chrysler Town and County and Chrysler Voyager minivans from model years between 2003 and 2007.

The agency has concluded that further investigation of minivans manufactured from 2003 to 2007 is unlikely to find a safety defect because the stalls happen infrequently and at low speeds.

"The failure rate is low, even after eight to 13 years of the vehicles being in service," the agency wrote in documents posted on its website.

"Given the need to allocate and prioritize NHTSA's limited resources to best accomplish the agency's safety mission, the petition is denied."

NHTSA also said it will take further action if warranted by circumstances in the future.

Stalling problems in newer Fiat Chrysler minivans and SUVs meanwhile face a separate investigation.

Last year, NHTSA closed a related investigation into 153,817 2006 Chrysler 300, Dodge Charger and Dodge Magnum vehicles that may result in engine stall shortly after refueling.

Chrysler identified a problem with the multi-function control valve fuel shutoff float integrated into the gas tanks.

Under federal law, automakers are not required to fix all defects only those that could pose an unreasonable safety risk.
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