Less than two weeks after refusing the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s request that it recall 2.7 million older Jeep vehicles, Chrysler has agreed to the government’s revised request that it recall the autos. That said, our auto product liability law firm would like to point out that while the majority of media sources are reporting a recall of that many jeeps, USA Today says that a compromise between Chrysler and NHTSA was reached and that the recall will just involve 1.56 million Jeep Grand Cherokees (1993-1998 models) and Jeep Liberty SUVs (2002-2007 models). The original recall request had included Grand Cherokee (1999-2004 models). (To add some clarity to the disparity in the number of recall vehicles involved that are being reported, CNN says that approximately 1.2 million of the Grand Cherokees (1999 to 2004 models) will be brought in to check whether they have an after-market factory trailer hitch that would be replaced with a factory hitch. This leaves another 1.56 million vehicles that will be inspected.)
NHTSA believes that the vehicles involved are susceptible to car fires if they are struck behind, in part because the gas tanks seem to be prone to spilling gas. When it made its earlier recall request, the government said it knew of at least 37 car fire incidents involving a Chrysler Jeep resulting in at last 31 deaths.
NHTSA also agreed that Chrysler doesn’t have to call the recalled Jeeps defective, which will help the automaker in any auto defect lawsuits blaming the autos for any car fire fatalities. Also, the automaker only needs to state that modifications made to the recalled Jeeps will just impact “low-speed impacts.” The deadliest fire deaths have typically involved Jeeps that were stopped or moving slowly and were rear-ended by other vehicles that were moving at highway speeds.
The news of Chrysler’s latest recall comes on the day of the deadline NHTSA had given it to respond to its original recall request. If the automaker still refused to comply, the government could have instigated public hearings that might have damaged Chrysler’s reputation, especially if the loved ones of victims that were killed decided to participate and speak out about the Jeep fires. (However, it is also important to note that many of the vehicles involved in the recall request had exceeded the 10-year recall limit, so Chrysler could have refused to pay for any modifications stemming from the announcement.
In another, unrelated recall, NHTSA has convinced General Motors to recall close to 194,000 Chevrolet Trailblazer EXT and GMC Envoy XL (2006 models), Buick Rainier, GMC Envoy, Chevrolet Trailblazer, and Isuzu Ascender (2006, 2007 models), and the Saab 9-7x (2005, 2006, 2007 models) over concerns that an electrical problem involving the SUVs could start a car fire. This expands last year’s recall, only in certain states, involving affecting 278,000 GM autos over same problem. GM was reportedly resistant to both recalls. This safety issue involves fluid possibly getting in the door on the driver’s side, which could result in a short circuit to the window control and power door that might prevent the door locks and windows from working properly or cause smoke, odor, or fire.
While an auto recall can definitely save lives, there are still the injuries and deaths that can occur prior to an announcement being made. You want to work with an auto defects law firm that know how to prove a vehicle defect or an auto safety issue caused or contributed to your personal injury or a loved one’s wrongful death.