(June 23, 2012)
If you own a Jeep that was made between 1993 and 2007, you may want to read this article to see if your vehicle will be recalled. The executive director for the Center for Auto Safety believes it is only a matter of time before Chrysler must make this recall, however, they believe otherwise.
Chrysler’s senior manager of regulatory affairs commented on data from over 21,000 rear-impact collisions involving the Jeep Grand Cherokees, as well as other models in the timespan listed above, involving the risk of gas tanks catching fire. “The data demonstrates very clearly that the vehicles are no more likely to experience these rear-impact fire crashes than the peer vehicles.”
He believes this risk exists because the fuel tank during these years was located in the back of the vehicle, whereas Jeep Cherokees built after 2004 are now located in front of the rear axle. He continued, “just looking at the design, as a safety advocate, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize an unshielded tank, hanging below the rear bumper, is unsafe.”
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said that they are expanding preliminary investigations to include Jeep Cherokee’s from 1993-2001, and Jeep Liberty’s from 2002-2007. This engineering analysis is a necessary step before they can determine if a recall is necessary.
The agency’s website stated that “the NHTSA’s assessment of the data collected during preliminary evaluation indicates that rear-impact related tank failures and vehicle fires are more prevalent in the Jeep Grand Cherokee than in the non-Jeep peer vehicles.”
Chrysler is cooperating, even though they believe a recall would be unnecessary. There have been 180 fatal crashes involving Jeep Grand Cherokees for the model years being investigated, but not all of these crashes involved rear-end collisions. Chrysler found 25 fatal crashes for the Jeep Grand Cherokee involved fires and rear-end collisions, mostly all in excess of 50 mph speeds at impact.
A Chrysler spokesman is confident that these vehicles will be removed from the recall list, as all their vehicles have met NHTSA’s crash standards. However, if Chrysler is wrong, and these vehicles indeed do get recalled, then they face a massive recall.
As part of the “bailout” plan in its 2009 restructuring, Chrysler assumed responsibility for all safety recalls before filing its Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. It is worth noting, however, that Chrysler has immunity for any lawsuits involving crashes that occurred before the bankruptcy proceedings.