Feds ask Chrysler to recall some Jeeps

Published 12:17 pm Friday, June 7, 2013

Federal safety experts have written to Chrysler asking the auto manufacturer to recall certain models of sport utility vehicles due to safety concerns.

The vehicles the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is concerned with are Jeep Grand Cherokees made between 1993-2005 and Jeep Libertys made between 2002-2007.

On June 3, the NHTSA’s Office of Defects Investigation, which has been conducting an probe into the vehicles’ safety for three years, asked Chrysler to voluntarily recall those vehicles, about 2.7 million in all, in order to fix issues.

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According to the NHTSA’s study, those specific models of Grand Cherokees and Libertys have a higher rate of fires and rear-end crashes and a gas tank that is positioned in such a way that is a safety defect. The tanks are mounted behind the vehicles’ rear axles.

This is the same issue that is at issue in the lawsuit that Bryan and Linsday Walden filed against Chrysler in Decatur County Superior Court, after their four-year-old son, Remi, was killed by a post-collision, fuel-fed fire on March 6, 2012.

According to the Butler, Wooten and Fryhofer law firm of Atlanta and Columbus, Remi’s aunt, Emily Newsome, was driving Remi to lessons at the Bainbridge Tennis Center when their 1999 Jeep Grand Cherokee was struck from the rear by a pickup truck driven by Bryan Harrell.

Harrell, who is also facing criminal charges related to the accident, is also being sued by the Waldens.

However, Chrysler announced this week that it does not plan to recall the SUVs in question.

The auto maker challenged the agency’s request and its analysis of crash data, arguing the fuel tank designs used in the Jeeps met federal safety standards and “do not pose an unreasonable risk.” Chrysler also claims that the year model Jeeps in question are as safe as comparable vehicles sold during the same time period.

Clarence Ditlow, executive director of the Center for Auto Safety in Washington, D.C., wrote Chrysler and parent company Fiat on May 22 also asking for a recall. Ditlow cites the deaths of three children, including Remi, as a result of fires that arose from Jeep Cherokees and Grand Cherokees being struck from the rear.

“The Walden family applauds NHTSA for its finding that these vehicles are dangerous and should be recalled,” said Leigh May, one of the counsel’s attorneys. “They want to make sure that no other family suffers the loss that they have from these defective vehicles.”