Monday, June 24, 2013

Chrysler Reconsiders NHTSA Request to Recall Vehicles

On Tuesday, June 18, 2013, just hours before its deadline to reconsider NHTSA's recall request, Chrysler agreed to recall 1.56 million 1993-1998 Jeep Grand Cherokee and 2002-2007 Jeep Liberty SUVs.  

After 2 years of research, NHTSA recently requested that Chrysler recall 2.7 million vehicles, due to an alleged safety defect relating to the placement of the fuel tank on the vehicles.  According to NHTSA, the design of the vehicles is defective because the fuel tanks are mounted behind the rear axle which could lead to the rupture of the fuel tank and an increased risk of fire during severe rear end collisions.  In response, Chrysler claimed that the vehicles in question are safe and not any more unsafe than any other vehicle of that era. 

2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee
NHTSA originally requested a recall of 2.7 vehicles, 1993-2004 model year Jeep Grand Cherokees and 2002-2007 model year Jeep Liberties.  However, in a deal apparently struck in a phone conversation between Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne and NHTSA administrator David Strickland, Chrysler is only being required to recall about 1.56 million vehicles.  So which vehicles were excluded from the recall?  About 1.1 million 1999-2004 Jeep Grand Cherokees, which are a different design that the earlier models.  And the deal gets better for Chrysler-- they don't even have to say in their recall that the vehicles are defective and they need only say that the modifications being made are effective for "low-speed impacts", not high speed ones.  

But the 1.1 million 1999-2004 Jeep Grand Cherokees will not completely be left out.  Instead, Chrysler has agreed to perform a "customer service action" for these vehicles.  They will get similar treatment as the recalled vehicles, but Chrysler will not have to include them in its recall numbers.

Has Chrysler finally "seen the light"?  Not likely.  Chrysler seems to have an unshakable attitude that it never builds vehicles wrong.  So why the change in position?  By striking this deal, Chrysler will avoid the bad publicity brought on by public hearings and their ongoing battle with NHTSA.  And, the move apparently was not too late, because according to Kelley Blue Book, "shopper interest has been unaffected" by Chrysler's standoff with NHTSA.

Own a Jeep Grand Cherokee or Jeep Liberty included in the recall?  Click here for more information from NHTSA on the upcoming recall.

Beth Wells
Helping Consumers Get Rid of Lemons, 9 Years Running

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