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Chrysler SUVs Under Investigation by NHTSA

by Jose G. “Joey” Gonzalez, Jr. on 01/17/2014

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is expanding its investigation into 593,000 2011-2013 Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge Durango SUVs.  NHTSA began its investigation of the SUVs in August when three major fires occurred in the headliners of Jeep Grand Cherokees. Fires erupted in the headliner and sun visor fabric while the vehicles were in motion.

Since the original investigation began in August, five additional fire incidents have been identified.  Several individuals have reported Chrysler defect injuries.

The expanded and upgraded investigation is a critical step for the NHTSA that allows for them to potentially require a recall.

Chrysler reports that their engineers are working with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to determine the exact source of the headliner fires.  Currently, engineers believe that wiring underneath the headliner fabric might be defective causing potential electrical fires.  The NHTSA believes that the screws holding the sun visor to the top of the car can potentially puncture the wiring, causing the risk of fire.

The fire risk ranges from minor overheating to open flames.  Reports indicate that fires have moved from the roof of the car to the front seats and down the door panels.  One report states that the sunroof became damaged during a fire in the headliner and exploded causing injury.

In June of 2013, under government pressure, Chrysler agreed to recall 1.56 million 1992-1998 Grand Cherokees and 2002-2007 Jeep Liberty vehicles because of increased risk of gas tank leaks and fire after rear-end accidents.  Chrysler is still actively replacing trailer hitches on those vehicles to prevent the gas tank puncture during rear-end accidents that lead to fire incidents.  The NHTSA had originally requested that Chrysler recall 2.7 million Jeeps in response to 51 deaths that occurred when their Jeeps caught fire after rear-enders.

The attorneys at Watts Guerra LLP have years of active trial litigation experience representing victims of defective automobiles, busses, ATVs, vans, and other motor vehicles.  Call us if you or a loved one has been injured due to a car fire or any other vehicle defect.

Tags: Automotive Defects, Chrysler

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