Defective Vehicles in North Carolina — Chrysler Refuses to Recall SUVs Amid Fire Concerns

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has demanded that Chrysler Group initiate a recall of some 3 million Jeep model vehicles because of a design flaw that may cause the sport utility vehicles to burst into flames upon rear impact.

Chrysler, however, is refusing.
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Our Rutherfordton car accident lawyers recognize that this is more than just troublesome for Chrysler’s safety reputation. For every day these vehicles remain on the road, the risk of severe injuries and deaths remains for those who occupy these vehicles, as well as those who share the road with them.

The NHTSA launched its investigation following a forwarded report from the Center for Auto Safety, which indicated that between the two vehicle models in question – Jeep Grand Cherokees and Jeep Libertys – there have been 237 fiery crashes resulting in 338 deaths.

Chrysler says those figures are “greatly inflated,” and it disputes even the NHTSA’s lower estimates of 37 fiery wrecks resulting in about 50 deaths.

Further, Chrysler contends the “flaw” referenced by the NHTSA is no flaw at all, and that the vehicles are designed according to appropriate safety standards used in many other models. The issue is the fact that the NHTSA says the gas tank is located too close to the rear of the vehicle. So when a car is struck from behind, the impact is enough to cause the tank to catch fire or, in some cases, explode.

Although Chrysler maintains that some Ford models are designed the same way, the Center for Auto Safety says that the fire risk in a Grand Cherokee has proven 20 times higher than in Ford Explorer models.

The advocacy group has estimated it would cost the company about $300 million to install three parts that would address the issue and help mitigate the risk on existing models. That’s a fair amount of money, the group concedes, but the company could easily lose that much in future sales if it demonstrates that customer safety is secondary to its bottom line.

Even newer Jeep models are not designed the same way, meaning they lack the same risk as Grand Cherokees produced from 1993 to 2004 and Liberty models produced from 2002 to 2007.

Chrysler is, however, initiating two much smaller recalls – one for nearly 410,000 Jeep Patriot and Compass models from 2010 to 2012. These recalls were enacted to repair a sensor-activated restraint system that is supposed to kick on when a rollover is about to happen.The company says that parts of the side airbag and seatbelts might not function the right way if the rollover occurs slowly.

So far, the problems hasn’t resulted in any injuries, according to the company.

In a separate recall, the company is pulling more than 220,000 its 2012 and 2013 Jeep Wrangler sport utility vehicles for a power steering issue that could cause premature wear.

Still, the company’s refusal to enact the other recall at the request of the NHTSA is an unusual move. The last time was back in 1996. The company? Chrysler.

If you or a loved one is involved in an accident, contact Grimes Teich Anderson LLP. Call 1.800.533.6845.

Additional Resources:
Chrysler puts reputation at risk in recall fight, June 7, 2013, By Chris Isidore, CNN Money
More Blog Entries:
Increased Auto Insurance Minimums Would Offer More Protection In Case of Car Accidents, April 30, 2013, Rutherfordton Car Accident Injury Blog

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