By on June 5, 2013

2002-2004_Jeep_Liberty_Sport

In a rare display of defiance, Chrysler is refusing to comply with NHTSA’s request to recall 2.7 million SUVs, and is publicly challenging NHTSA on the validity of the recall.

NHTSA asked Chrysler to recall Grand Cherokee models made between 1993-2004 and Liberty models made between 2002-2007,  due to a defective fueling system that can lead to vehicle fires in rear end crashes. The agency has even blamed the alleged defect for as many as 51 deaths. But Chrysler has dug in its heels, issuing a statement and a white paper on NHTSA’s findings, stating

“The company does not agree with NHTSA’s conclusions and does not intend to recall the vehicles cited in the investigation. The subject vehicles are safe and are not defective…We believe NHTSA’s initial conclusions are based on an incomplete analysis of the underlying data, and we are committed to continue working with the agency to resolve this disagreement.”

In its own statement, NHTSA said that the Jeeps “…may contain a defect that presents an unreasonable risk to safety.” NHTSA has been investigating the models for some time, and Chrysler was first notified of the matter in September 2010. Chrysler has also been the subject of numerous lawsuits regarding the alleged defect.

According to Automotive News, The main point of contention appears to rest with rear crash standards. The two models were compliant with contemporary safety standards, but since 2008, the standard for rear impact fuel leakage had doubled. In addition, proposed modifications would apparently increase the risk of fires during side impact crashes, which are more prevalent.

While the matter may appear to be a squabble between Chrysler and NHTSA over arcane vehicle regulations, the subtext is much more interesting. A major OEM – an American one at that – is taking on NHTSA over a potentially touchy recall subject. Vehicle fires, lawsuits and deaths are all part and parcel of this story, and Chrysler is about to wage a bloody battle against NHTSA – these unpleasant topics will surely come up at some point.

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26 Comments on “NHTSA Asks Chrysler To Recall 2.7 Million Jeeps, Chrysler Says “No”...”


  • avatar
    mkirk

    As was stated in the D pillar post, though it was good when built in 1993, My truck likely does not meet current rollover, emission, or CAFE standards. Is the NHTSA working with Toyota on this? It is a travesty that my 20 year old truck doesn’t meet current standards and I demand accountability dammit!!!!

  • avatar
    Crabspirits

    I see it as “only 51 deaths”.

    That is a lot of vehicles. Some of which are quite old, and probably in a poor state of repair anyway. I got all excited when I heard this on the news, thinking “Oh boy, another massive recall due to poor engineering on Chryco’s part!”

    Then I heard how far back they are going with this. Sounds like BS to me.

    When do you draw the line?

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      Not to mention all but one of the GC accidents that involved those deaths where in high engergy situations like collisions with semi trucks.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        Where did you get this information? There were two JGC photos of fatal fires in the report. One was hit by a Dodge Dakota and impact damage wasn’t even obvious and the other was hit by something that looked remarkably like a Scion xB.

        http://www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/acms/cs/jaxrs/download/doc/UCM439144/INRM-EA12005-2111.pdf

  • avatar
    davidziff

    Traded in my 03 Liberty [ Hindenburg Jr.] last Fall– only 35k miles — looked and ran fine. Went to the local casino yesterday to celebrate my good fortune and lost $250.

  • avatar
    kjb911

    had an 02 grand cherokee was rear-ended fairly badly a few years back no fire and was fixed to like new condition…04 is almost 10 years now how the hell can you make the difference between old age and poor maintenance with defects if it didn’thappen during the first few years considering that the zj and wj sold together in excess of 2 million vehicles 51 seems a very low percentage. how many vehicle fires happen on average a year in any category?

  • avatar
    rpol35

    Moving the goal posts like this seems extreme even for a meddling government bureaucracy. The vehicles in question passed whatever arcane regulation was in force at the time of production; so be it!

    I hope Chrysler digs in and digs in hard.

    • 0 avatar
      thanh_n

      I agree. I also recall reading on TTAC a few years ago about another manufacturer that was deemed responsible for something they had complied with for the certain time frame. I do not remember though.

    • 0 avatar
      probert

      I’m confused – TTAC said I should hate Chrysler because some union workers were smoking in the parking lot – oo I’m hot under the collar. But now that the meddling federal government is against them I should cheer for those union thugs.

      Should I just hate them all and let Goldman Sachs sort em out? Please advise.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        The UAW thugs were getting drunk and stoned at lunch. Chrysler became indefensible when they had to hire them back. The parasites control the host, and the only rational thing to do is give their relationship all the space in the world.

  • avatar
    Mr Imperial

    The NHTSA, just like any government agency, will not allow itself to lose or look weak. Just strongarm the opposition.

    If I were Chrysler, I’d challenge them to provide proof of the alleged 51 deaths and to prove that it was the direct fault of the vehicle. It seems too frequent nowadays for the government to produce questionable statistics/numbers.

    Case in point, remember how the CARB overstated Diesel emissions by 340%:
    http://www.science20.com/cool-links/evidencebased_advocacy_california_grossly_overstates_emissions_get_mandates_passed

  • avatar
    KixStart

    I wonder if there’s a memo floating around Chrysler HQ that lays out the calculation that settling the future wrongful death lawsuits is likely to be “cheeeeeeaper” than doing the recall?

    • 0 avatar
      MRF 95 T-Bird

      Just like the infamous Pinto memo. Something like $7 per car for the gas tank shield. Ford figured it would be just cheaper to settle lawsuits.

  • avatar
    raph

    Gas tanks must have been Ford sourced!

  • avatar

    there’s probably some point safety or environment concerns get so ethereal nobody wins really. Good on Marchionne

  • avatar
    danio3834

    This reminds me of the Windstar rear axle recall where there was a chance the rear beam axle could fail after being exposed to 10 years plus of road salt and corrosion in rust belt states. They actually ended up putting axle assemblies in some of these 200k mile rot boxes, never mind the rest of the vehicle being corroded to hell.

    Then there was the front engine cradle recall for again, corrosion. Ford ended up buying back a big swath of these vans at 200% market value because of their supposed liability.

    All of this makes you wonder, after 10+ years and 200k or more miles (in some cases), what can you expect from a used up minivan? Apparently Ford owns these until the end of time, well past any corrosion guarantees set forth when the vehicle was purchased.

  • avatar
    jpolicke

    Chrysler dumped their liability for damages from these vehicles in the bankruptcy, so the only plaintiff they have left to fight is NHTSA.

  • avatar
    mshenzi

    Here’s an interesting piece on the potential cost of complying with the recall.

    http://qz.com/91006/chrysler-defies-the-us-governments-request-to-recall-2-7-mln-jeeps-not-that-it-had-much-choice/

  • avatar
    fredtal

    Next fire on a Jeep will bring out the lawyers and sue the krap out of Chrysler. They all heck breaks out when it gets on TV! It’s a battle Chrysler can’t win.

  • avatar
    TomHend

    I am for anybody standing up to Big Government.

    The Republicans wont do it.

    Way to go Chrysler.

  • avatar
    AJ

    I’ve got an ’04 Liberty in my garage. I’ve been very happy with it.

    It’s had several recalls before. One was the front ball joints. As I was basically told by a Jeep engineer, the recall was not that the ball joints were dangerous for most drivers, but for those few that do hard off-road driving, they did not meet that spec., so they replaced them. Well it does say Jeep on the hood, however mine has never been wheeled hard as I’m sure is the case with most KJs.

    The most recent recall was to replace the rear lower control arms. The new ones are heavy duty. I guess there was a “possible” rusting issue with the originals. But like I said, I’ve been happy with it. It rides nice, has been 100% problem free and it’s got a great transfer case (Selec-Trac).

  • avatar
    michaelfrankie

    March 2 million people through my living room, have each of them sit on my couch for say 24 hours, and I bet at least 50 of them drop dead of natural causes.


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