Federal regulators are unhappy with the rate at which Chrysler is addressing its Jeep recall to address fuel tank issues, calling efforts by the automaker to install new trailer hitches on older Jeep models “woeful” and telling leaders at the company to “get their act in gear.”
After initially resisting requests from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for a recall of certain older Jeep SUVs over reports of fires and fatalities that occurred in rear-end collisions, Chrysler agreed in June 2013 to add a trailer hitch to 1.56 million 2002-2007 Jeep Liberty and 1993-1998 Grand Cherokee models.
According to NHTSA and the Detroit News, more than 50 fatalities stemming from rear-impact crashes have occurred in Grand Cherokee and Liberty SUVs.
The week after a 23-year-old pregnant woman was killed in a rear-end collision from burns and smoke inhalation in a recalled 2003 Jeep Liberty, NHTSA sent a Nov. 19 letter to Chrysler Group CEO Sergio Marchionne criticizing the company’s efforts to repair the recalled Jeeps, citing a low 3 percent repair rate, says Bloomberg.
In a response by Marchionne to NHTSA deputy administrator David Friedman, the CEO said that 112,829 recalled Jeep Libertys (13.2 percent) and 26,352 Jeep Grand Cherokees (3.5 percent) have been fixed, reports USA Toay.
‘Something’s Wrong There’
Chrysler said that it currently has more than 430,000 trailer hitches available for installation, although Friedman says that consumers are complaining about dealers not fixing their vehicles.
He told reporters after a Senate hearing on an unrelated recall that, “Something’s wrong there. They have to make sure their dealers are accurately informing consumers and there are no barriers to dealers getting those parts.”
Chrysler spokesman Eric Mayne said earlier this month that approximately 137,000 Jeep owners had brought their vehicles in for trailer hitch installation, according to Reuters, and that the company would step up efforts to inform owners of recalled Jeeps. NHTSA also published a consumer advisory urging owners to contact their local dealer and arrange a service appointment.
The installation of a trailer hitch on affected Jeeps is intended to protect the gas tanks in the event of a low or moderate-speed rear-end crash, the advisory says.
NHTSA and Chrysler also acknowledge, however, that the hitches won’t offer additional protection in high-speed crashes – the very types of crashes that have mostly been linked to fatal rear-end accidents in Libertys and Grand Cherokees.
Jeeps are a popular vehicle among Coloradoans who enjoy the convenience of a 4×4 for exploring our state’s many outdoor recreational opportunities and getting around in snowy weather. If you or someone you love drives a recalled Jeep and was involved in an accident, contact a Fort Collins car accident lawyer at Steve Ray Law, PLLC to discuss your legal options during a free consultation.
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