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Chrysler Reverses Course on Jeep Recall

June 18, 2013

Back of Jeep Liberty recall gas tank

By Leslie Spellman :: 7:59 PM

Late this afternoon Chrysler agreed to recall two older model Jeeps that have plastic fuel tanks located behind the rear axles that could explode in a rear-end collision. The company had initially refused to take action when the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) first contacted them regarding the SUVs.

The recall action only covers a portion of the vehicles initially identified by the NHTSA, which earlier this month announced that Jeep Grand Cherokees from model years 1993 through 2004 and Jeep Libertys from 2002 through 2007 were at risk of fire and explosion due to the location of their fuel tanks. A government study showed that that 51 people had died in a three year period from fiery crashes in Jeeps with gas tanks located behind the rear axle.

Chrysler had initially dragged its feet on the recall, claiming that its data and tests showed the design of the vehicles to be well within governmental standards for rear impact collisions. The NHTSA gave Chrysler until tomorrow to respond to the recall request.

Only certain models of the Jeeps initially identified have been selected for recall action by Chrysler. The SUVs that do qualify include over a million and a half Libertys from 2002 through 2007 model years and Grand Cherokees from 1993 through 1998 model years. These vehicles will be outfitted with a Chrysler Mopar brand trailer hitch, which is bolted to the frame behind the fuel tank, providing extra protection to the tank in an impact.

The other vehicles in the NHTSA’s original recall request will be treated as “customer service action” vehicles by Chrysler. Owners of these vehicles will receive notices stating that their vehicles are protected if they have trailer hitches installed by the factory or a dealer-installed hitches. Dealers will offer inspect other trailer hitches to ensure they were installed correctly and provide protection. Vehicles in this category that do not already have a hitch will not receive one.

It is expected that this recall will cost Chrysler about $200 per each hitch that needs to be installed, plus the cost of the labor and parts to install the hitch.