The intensity of a federal investigation into a series of Jeep airbag injuries increased last week, reports the Detroit Free Press. Fifty people have been hurt when the air bags of a Jeep Liberty SUV inflated, even though no crash had occurred to trigger them. Liberty SUVs made by Chrysler Group LLC for the years 2002 and 2003 have been under investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration since September, after seven consumer complaints were filed.
A full engineering analysis
NHTSA documents note that Chrysler has received 87 complaints of air bags malfunction. Surprise deployment has reportedly caused burns, cuts and bruises to the upper body. No deaths have occurred. Of the malfunction reports, 42 involve the driver’s front air bag, while the remaining 45 involve both the driver and front passenger air bags.
Cases where Jeep Liberty air bags would engage occurred both while the vehicle was starting and while it was being driven. Some Liberty owners noted in complaints that the air bag warning light came on just before inflation, while others noted that the warning light did not illuminated.
Determining whether Jeep Liberty recall is needed
Reuters reports that 386,873 vehicles are currently under investigation. The current full engineering analysis of 2002 and 2003 Jeep Liberty SUVs is a step in the investigative process that could lead to a Jeep Liberty recall if federal regulators determine that Chrysler needs to address the safety issue. Chrysler has noted that no incidents have occurred in Jeep Liberty vehicles made after March 19, 2003.
Electrical voltage spike issue
According to NHTSA investigators, Chrysler previously inspected the air bag control chip in the Jeep Liberty, and found that the chips would occasionally fail due to an electrical voltage spike. Investigation into the root causes of this are currently in progress, as Chrysler Group LLC cooperates with federal regulators.