Chrysler Resolves NHTSA Recall Request

Giv­en a lim­it­ed amount of time to respond, Chrysler Group LLC said it has agreed to recall 1.56 mil­lion of the old­er jeeps at issue, and the NHTSA says it is pleased.

Read more about the details of Chrysler’s res­o­lu­tion of the dis­pute with the NHTSA.

Chrysler agreed Tues­day to add or replace trail­er hitch­es on 2.7 mil­lion SUVs to reduce the fire risk from rear-impact col­li­sions, avoid­ing a poten­tial law­suit by fed­er­al safe­ty reg­u­la­tors that could have dam­aged the Jeep brand’s rep­u­ta­tion for qual­i­ty and cus­tomer ser­vice.

In a com­pro­mise with the Nation­al High­way Traf­fic Safe­ty Admin­is­tra­tion, Chrysler agreed to recall 1.56 mil­lion Jeep Grand Chero­kees from 1993–98 and Jeep Lib­er­tys from 2002-07, after refus­ing the agency’s request ear­li­er this month.

The com­pa­ny also is con­duct­ing a “ser­vice action” for 1.14 mil­lion Jeep Grand Chero­kees for mod­el years 1999–2004. Chrysler deal­ers will inspect those vehi­cles and replace after­mar­ket trail­er hitch­es with orig­i­nal equip­ment trail­er hitch­es.

Reg­u­la­tors from the Nation­al High­way Traf­fic Safe­ty Admin­is­tra­tion said the agency will con­tin­ue to inves­ti­gate the issue, includ­ing a review of new doc­u­ments pro­vid­ed by Chrysler. NHTSA offi­cials said they were pleased with Chrysler’s deci­sion.

While Chrysler stood by its asser­tion that the vehi­cles are not defec­tive, the automak­er acknowl­edged con­sumer con­cerns about the safe­ty of the vehi­cles, which have fuel tanks sit­u­at­ed behind the rear axle.

Chrysler said its deal­ers will install trail­er hitch­es on affect­ed vehi­cles that do not already have com­pa­ny-installed hitch­es.

“Chrysler Group’s analy­sis of the data con­firms that these vehi­cles are not defec­tive and are among the safest in the peer group,” said a state­ment from Chrysler, con­trolled by Italy’s Fiat .

The Nation­al High­way Traf­fic Safe­ty Admin­is­tra­tion on June 3 asked Chrysler to recall the two Jeep mod­els because the place­ment of the fuel tank leaves them less pro­tect­ed in the event of rear-end crash and could lead to a leak and fire.

The safe­ty agency’s data shows that 51 peo­ple have been killed in rear-end crash­es involv­ing the two Jeep mod­els affect­ed. Chrysler ear­ly this month said NHTSA’s inves­ti­ga­tion was flawed, and that fuel leaks and fires were extreme­ly rare.

Sandy Munro, pres­i­dent of con­sul­tan­cy Munro & Asso­ciates in sub­ur­ban Detroit, said a con­ser­v­a­tive esti­mate of the recall’s cost is $300 mil­lion.

Alec Gutier­rez, ana­lyst with indus­try con­sul­tant Kel­ley Blue Book, said con­sumers have recent­ly been for­giv­ing of automak­ers who com­ply with recalls.

 

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