Ralph Nader Vs. The Jeep Grand Cherokee

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer
ralph nader vs the jeep grand cherokee

After receiving an award from the Italian car magazine Quattroruote, Ralph Nader used the opportunity to tell the assembled crowd that

Now that Fiat has purchased Chrysler, it has the moral obligation to remedy the deadly fuel tank design in the before more innocent victims are burned today, not only in the United States, but also in Europe,

Nader’s beef according to Automotive News [sub]: the 1993-2004 JGC

“is a modern-day Pinto for soccer moms” because the fuel tank is behind the rear axle below the rear bumper… In addition, the 1993-98 Grand Cherokees are flawed because the filler hose goes through the frame rail and is pulled out of the fuel tank

NHTSA has been investigating the 3m or so Grand Cherokees built with this “design flaw” since August, based on evidence that this issue played a role in 22 “fiery crashes” and 14 deaths. Initial NHTSA reports claim the JGC has no disproportionate risk of fires, but Nader contests the claim, arguing that some 44 crashes involved the “design flaw” which he argues caused some 64 deaths. Given the many problems with NHTSA’s reporting system, it’s tough to tell who has the truth on their side in this conflict, but Chrysler insists that the investigation should end even though

it moved and shielded the fuel tank, starting with 2005 models

Meanwhile, thanks to its government-guided bankruptcy, Fiat/Chrysler isn’t even on the hook for injuries caused by “Old Chrysler” models anyway.
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12 of 45 comments
  • PrincipalDan PrincipalDan on Jan 26, 2011

    A colleague of mine drives to work 3 days a week in a 1st generation Corvair coupe. He always wondered why VW and Porsche didn't get painted with the same brush back in the 60s with their rear engine air cooled designs. I told him I didn't know but it sure did help him get a deal on a used car.

    • See 4 previous
    • Theo78-96 Theo78-96 on Jan 27, 2011

      The Beetle had leaf springs. It was the use of coil springs that made the Corvair so dangerous - as Nader explains in detail in his book.

  • GS650G GS650G on Jan 26, 2011

    I hope Ralph at least had a happy ending with the aforementioned prostitutes, never let a crisis (or a trick) go to waste.

    • BuzzDog BuzzDog on Jan 26, 2011

      Oh God...please don't plant mental images in my head. I just had dinner.

  • GS650G GS650G on Jan 26, 2011

    Brings new meaning to the title Unsafe at Any Speed.

  • Theo78-96 Theo78-96 on Jan 27, 2011

    I thought the issue with the Pinto was the use of the petrol tank as a floor. This presented few problems on the sedan, but on the wagon, when there was a rear ender (the most common crash), the fuel tank would rupture and fuel vapour would enter the cabin (and everyone smoked in 1973). The sister car of the Pinto, the Ford Cortina, had the same fuel/axle layout, but had few problems (that sort of problem anyway). In fact, this layout was pretty well standard on cars outside North America until well into the 1990s.

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    • BuzzDog BuzzDog on Jan 28, 2011
      I thought the issue with the Pinto was the use of the petrol tank as a floor. Some (or perhaps all) early Mustangs and Falcons used the top of the fuel tank as the trunk floor. I'm not sure if the same applies to Mercury Cougars and Comets of the same era. The Maverick and Pinto had trunk floors, at least the seven or eight examples that my family owned during the 1970s. One thing the Pinto improved upon was the location of the fuel filler neck. On previous Ford compacts it was in the far back of the trunk and exited between the taillights; on the Pinto it exited high on the rear quarter panel. Not was it less vulnerable in rear-end collisions, it eliminated an awkward obstacle in the middle rear of the trunk.