919,000 Chrysler Jeeps Recalled Due to Air Bag Defect

Chrysler has recalled more than 919,000 Jeep Grand Cherokee and Jeep Liberty SUVs worldwide because of a potential defect that has caused the airbags to inflate unexpectedly while the vehicles are being driven, according to documents posted Friday on the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s website.

This recall affects a total of 775,000 older versions of the Jeep Grand Cherokee and the Jeep Liberty SUVs in the United States, approximately 49,000 sold in Canada, about 22,000 sold in Mexico and the remainder were distributed to other global markets.

Two weeks ago, we reported that Ford had recalled its’ Fiesta model for an air bag safety defect, as well.  Honda and Hyundai are among the list of other automobile makers who have been affected in recent years.

The NHTSA reports that the Jeep recall involves Grand Cherokees, which were produced in the 2002 through 2004 model years and Liberty SUVs, which were produced in 2002 and 2003. According to the safety agency, the problem has been linked to a defective part in the computer used to control the air bags.

Under normal circumstances, air bags rely on sensors that indicate when and where a collision has occurred; in newer models, sensors can detect the severity of the collision and where in the vehicle occupants are sitting. The Jeeps involved in the recall may notice their front or side-impact air bags inflate, while the car is being driven, even if the vehicle was not involved in a collision. NHTSA began investigating the air bags in October of last year following several complaints about air bags inflating for no reason in Jeep Liberty’s.  Investigators traced the cause to electrical stress on one of two circuits in the control computer. The problem also causes the seat belts to tighten as if a collision were about to occur.  The investigators also reported that air bags went off 215 times, causing 81 minor injuries. Although no crashes have been reported, NHTSA warns that drivers could be startled, causing loss of control of their vehicles.

Chrysler, which makes Jeep, will install an electrical harness or filter, free of charge, to fix the problem. The company will begin notifying owners of the recalled vehicles in January.

Chrysler spokesman, Eric Mayne, said that warning lights on the dashboard normally come on before the air bags are inflated. If that happens, he warns, the driver should contact the Jeep dealer.  The problem occurs in less than three hundredths of a percent of the vehicles on the road, Mayne said.

There have been many air bag issues involving other automotive manufacturers in recent years, forcing companies to recall large numbers of vehicles. In July, Hyundai recalled 220,000 Sonata sedans and Santa Fe SUVs from the 2007 through 2009 model years because the sensors designed to protect small children in an air bag deployment, might not work. Hyundai also recalled approximately 23,000 late-model Sonatas for a different air bag defect.

Two weeks ago, we reported that Ford recalled 154,000 Fiesta models due to an air bag problem, and Ford previously recalled 1.5 million vehicles, including 1.2 million F-Series pick-ups, due to unexpected air bag deployments.

Honda has recalled more than 2.5 million vehicles sold through Honda, as well as Acura brands, because the air bags could deploy with too much force, sending dangerous shrapnel into the passenger compartment. The problem was linked to at least two known deaths.

The recalled Grand Cherokee vehicles were built from August 1, 2001 to May 16, 2003, while the Libertys were built form June 6, 2001 to March 19, 2003.

Due to the potential dangers, NHTSA has put a high-priority on discovering and fixing air bag problems.

If you have one of the two models of the recalled Jeeps, contact your dealer for installation of the electrical filter, free of charge.  Contact one of our Gacovino Lake attorneys at 1-800-246-HURT (4878).

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