NHTSA Incredibly OKs Chrysler's Refusal of Jeep Fuel Tank Recall
Before you get to thinking “the Chrysler Group is refusing to recall dangerous vehicles” we should offer some background on the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Jeep Liberty recall which the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued and the Chrysler Group refused. The NHTSA issued the order to Chrysler to recall 2.7 million Jeep models from the 1993 through 2007 model years after a lengthy investigation into a concern that these vehicles were prone to fire in the event of a specific type of impact. Chrysler was quick to point out that those vehicles included in the NHTSA mandated recall met or exceeded all government safety standards and that these vehicles were no more prone to fires than any other vehicle from that era with a similar fuel tank setup – of which there were quite a few.
A few weeks after that initial refusal of the NHTSA ordered recall of the 1993-2004 Grand Cherokee and the 2002-2007 Liberty, the Chrysler Group had a slight change of tune as they issued a new statement that they would recall those vehicles to address the NHTSA concerns while still maintaining that there was no flaw with the design or components of those affected Jeep SUVs. However, the Chrysler Group was technically issuing a different recall for the same problem and their take on things only saw about 1.56 million of those initial 2.7 million Jeeps recalled. At first, the NHTSA was at odds with the Chrysler Group over their refusing the original recall order and taking their own approach but now that months of discussions have taken place – the US federal government has approved Chrysler’s approach to the perceived fuel tank problem.
The Chrysler Group found during internal testing that they could protect the rear mounted fuel tank by adding a trailer hitch assembly. With the Mopar trailer hitch in place, impacts from the rear are not as likely to damage the fuel tank so these vehicles are not as likely to run into fuel leak or fire issues so to fix this problem, Chrysler will ask the owners of those 1.56 million Grand Cherokee and Liberty SUVs to return to their local dealership where a trailer hitch assembly will be added free of charge. Those vehicles which came with a factory towing package – or those Jeeps which had a Mopar hitch assembly added after the fact – are exempt from this recall considering that they already have the item which will protect the fuel tank in the event of a rear end collision.