Feds investigate possible defects in Jeep Grand Cherokee

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Jeep Grand Cherokee

The Jeep Grand Cherokee is being investigated by the NHTSA. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

A federal investigation has been launched by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The subject of the investigation will be older models of the Jeep Grand Cherokees. The number of possibly affected vehicles numbers more than 3 million. The investigation was touched off by a petition from the Center for Auto Safety, over concerns of faulty and dangerous design of the popular SUVs. It is posited that Jeep Grand Cherokees, from more than 10 model years, have a defective fuel system that can pose a serious fire hazard.

Jeep Grand Cherokees’ alleged bad design

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has launched an investigation into a possible flaw in the Jeep Grand Cherokee, according to CNN. The vehicles in question are from model years 1993 to 2004. The Center for Auto Safety says that the design of the fuel tank poses a serious fire hazard. There have been 172 crashes involving a fire, resulting in 254 deaths in Jeep Grand Cherokees. Chrysler insisted the Cherokee was completely safe.

Problem possibly due to bad gas tank

The defect in the Jeep Grand Cherokee is the design of the plastic fuel tank. The tank is mounted below the rear bumper and behind the rear axle. This, according to the Ralph Nader-founded CAS, makes the gas tank’s neck susceptible to rupture in rear end collisions and greater risk of fire. According to ABC, the NHTSA has identified 44 crashes where vehicles catching fire caused more damage than the actual crash. There were 55 deaths in which the fire was fatal when injuries caused by crashes would not have been. There were 10 crashes where fires were involved and 13 deaths believed to be due to the vehicle being rear ended.

Pinto all over again

Jeep has offered a skid plate as an option for the Grand Cherokee that covers the fuel tank, but only as an add-on for off-road driving. A brush guard was added in 1999. In 2005, the Jeep Grand Cherokee was redesigned with the fuel tank moved to the middle of the vehicle. Though the problem is not the same in many respects, the greater risk to the top of the tank being sheared off is similar to the defect in the fuel tank of the Ford Pinto.

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