The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is investigating three million Jeeps to determine whether a spate of post-crash fires is connected to the location of the SUV’s fuel tank, Automotive News reports.
3m Grand Cherokees probed
The US safety agency said on Tuesday it is investigating Jeep Grand Cherokees after initial reviews of 13 deaths in 10 crashes from 1993 to 2004 showed the vehicle’s fuel tank to be the most likely culprit.
It is alleged that the SUV’s fuel tank extends below the rear bumper and behind the rear axle, and is not adequately protected in crashes. Furthermore, it is reported that the fuel filler neck tears in crashes, potentially splashing fuel..
Chrysler said it is cooperating with the investigation and stands by a statement released last November that stated it (Chrysler) “is confident that a study which considered all factors in all collisions - including rear collisions with fire - would show that the 1993-2004 Jeep Grand Cherokees perform as well as or better than other vehicles in their class.”
The NHTSA added, though, that complaints by customers of post-crash fires do not automatically “establish a defect trend.”
In addition, the NHTSA's review of the Jeep Grand Cherokee data “did not find the subject vehicles to be over-represented for post-crash fires.”
The investigation follows an October 2009 petition by the Centre for Auto Safety, a non-profit organisation, which reportedly refers to a number of lawsuits in which details have been withheld in accordance with terms outlined in confidential settlements.