*UPDATE: Chrysler has now agreed to recall a portion of the original 2.7 million-vehicle request put forth by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
This week the nation’s third-largest automaker decided to recall its refusal regarding a federal request to yank 2.7 million fire-prone models. Chrysler inked a deal with the NHTSA to recall approximately 1.56 million of the original lot. These include:
- 1993-2004 Jeep Grand Cherokees
- 2002-2007 Jeep Libertys
It’s possible that Chrysler won’t fix the more than one million Jeeps not included in the new recall. Instead, the automaker is categorizing them under a “customer service action” that leaves it up to the owner to address the issue: fuel tanks that could burst into flames in rear-end collisions.
Why the NHTSA Got Fired Up
The government agency requested the recall after a long-term study determined these Jeeps are at risk for catching fire if they’re hit from behind; their fuel tanks are positioned behind the rear axle and, if punctured, could cause an explosion. According to the NHTSA, at least 51 people have died from these fiery collisions.
Chrysler Eventually Complies, Well Kinda
Originally, Chrysler defied the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) recall request, arguing that the agency “seems to be holding Chrysler Group to a new standard for fuel-tank integrity that does not exist now and did not exist when the Jeep vehicles were manufactured.”
Possibly to avoid a court order, the company has turned an about-face and agreed to install rear trailer hitches to help protect the gas tanks in the event of low-impact collisions. Grand Cherokees and Libertys that don’t have the hitches already will get them; those that have after-market hitches will get Chrysler-made replacements. Chrysler will foot the bill for the hitches.
Chrysler’s decision to work with the NHTSA wasn’t without compromises, though. The company has issued a white paper stating it doesn’t agree with the NHTSA’s assessment and listing all the reasons why, and has refused to call the recall a “recall,” instead referring to it as a “voluntary campaign.”
Determine if Your Jeep is a Fire Hazard
Do you or someone you know own one of the involved Grand Cherokees or Libertys? How has the recall affected you?