A recent Washington Post article refers to the “long, strange story” regarding safety issues relating to two Chrysler Jeep models, noting that the matter finally appears to be nearing closure.
It has indeed been a singular tale focused on product liability, and one with relevance for many motorists across the country, including in Ohio.
The story began emerging in 2009, following prompts by the consumer watchdog organization Center for Auto Safety (CAS) to safety regulators regarding fire risks in Chrysler’s 2002-2007 Jeep Liberty and 1993-1998 Jeep Grand Cherokee models.
In response, investigators from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration commenced a probe, ultimately concluding that more than 50 people had died in accidents involving ruptured gas tanks.
The CAS disputed that assessment, saying that the number of fatalities more than tripled that number.
The NHTSA asked Chrysler to conduct a recall, and the automaker refused to do so. The company’s negative response triggered a widespread public relations backlash, and Chrysler ultimately reversed course, agreeing to cooperate with regulars and upgrade the rear structure of designated vehicles “if necessary.”
That response was short of a recall, and it was issued more than half a year ago. As the Post article notes, Jeep drivers “may have been driving on pins and needles for the past few months.”
Reportedly, the NHTSA recently approved Chrysler’s remedy for the fire-risk problem, which the Post calls an “unusual fix.” The company has agreed to install trailer hitches on the backs of affected vehicles to protect gas tanks from rupturing during collisions.
“No one believes that’s a perfect solution,” notes the paper. An official from the CAS calls it “tragic” and a “sham” recall.
A final NHTSA report on the recall is expected to be issued within a few weeks. We will keep our readers informed of all material details.
Source: The Washington Post, “Chrysler finally cleared for curious fix of 2002-2007 Jeep Liberty, 1993-1998 Grand Cherokee,” Richard Read, Jan. 20, 2014