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2013-06-28 12:25

FIX IN PLACE…BUT IS IT ENOUGH: Chyrsler will install trailer hitches on 1.56-million Jeeps to prevent fires caused by fuel tanks being punctured during rear-end collisions.Image: Jeep

Earlier in June 2013 Wheels24 reported that Chrysler rejected a US safety agency's request to recall as many as 2.7-million Jeep SUVs to fix an alleged risk of fire that has, the agency says, left dozens dead.

After rejecting the NHTSA's recommendation for a recall, Chrysler announced its recall millions of Jeep Liberty and Grand Cherokee units because of a fire risk.

On June 6 2013 the automaker agreed to also recall nearly 435 000 Jeeps to fix air bags and transmission fluid leaks.

'FIX WILL KEEP PEOPLE SAFE’

US transportation secretary Ray LaHood said that a deal reached with Chrysler, following talks with CEO Sergio Marchionne, would keep drivers safe, reports the Detroit News, but safety advocates believe the fix isn’t enough.

LaHood said: “I don’t think anybody in America can criticise us. The idea that we didn’t do enough or that Chrysler didn’t do enough is nonsense. It goes against everything we believe in. They proposed a fix and they are doing a fix. We believe the fix will keep people safe.

 “We don’t cut anybody a break when it comes to safety.”

Chrysler said its decision to install protective trailer hitches on 1.56-million Jeeps would not address government concerns that the vehicles are susceptible to fires resulting from severe rear-end crashes. The trailer hitch assembly will protect the fuel tank, which is between the rear axle and bumper, in a rear-end crash, reports Chrysler.

ON-GOING INVESTIGATION

Chrysler said the hitch would provide "incremental improvement in the crash energy management in low- to moderate-speed rear collisions".

Chrysler told the NHTSA in a letter: "The trailer hitch cannot, and will not, mitigate the risk of the high-energy rear collisions identified in your recall request letter."

It argues that most rear-impact Jeep crashes investigated by the government were so severe that any of its peers’ vehicles would “also have experienced fuel leakage".

The NHTSA hasn’t closed its investigation and will issue a formal report. NHTSA’s chief David Strickland will meet critics of the settlement early in July 2013, the DetNews added.

Chrysler would conduct a customer service campaign for 1.2-million 1999-2004 Jeep Grand Cherokees. It will replace non-factory-installed trailer hitches to make sure sharp edges from aftermarket hitches don't have the potential to puncture gas tanks.

NHTSA had originally asked Chrysler to recall all 2.7-million Jeeps.

SA AFFECTED

Chrysler SA reported that local models were affected. It said 4260 of its 2010-12 Jeep Patriot and Compass units would be recalled to correct an issue with the "occupant restraints control module".

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