Chevy Cruze and Jeep Wrangler fires spark NHTSA investigation

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Jeep Wrangler Unlimited

The NHTSA is investigating fires in Chevrolet Cruze sedans and Jeep Wrangler SUVs. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has opened investigations into reports of Chevrolet Cruze sedans and Jeep Wrangler SUVs catching fire. There is no common cause; the vehicles are made by different manufacturers but the NHTSA is looking into the matter.

Spontaneous combustion

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has opened two probes into reports of car fires involving two unrelated models, according to the Washington Post. The NHTSA is investigating reports of two Chevrolet Cruze sedans that were destroyed by a car fire and reports of eight vehicle fires in the Jeep Wrangler that destroyed six of the vehicles. The probe concerns the 2011 Chevrolet Cruze and 2010 Jeep Wrangler.

The probe includes both the two-door Wrangler and four-door Wrangler Unlimited. Complaints made to the NHTSA’s Office of Defects Investigation posted on Jalopnik show complaints of vehicle fires in both Wrangler and Wrangler Unlimited models.

No known injuries

At the moment, it is only a “preliminary investigation,” meaning the NHTSA is having a look. However, preliminary investigations sometimes lead to recalls.

In all cases, both Chevrolet and Jeep vehicles, the fire originated under the hood of the vehicle, according to Forbes. All but two reported cases, both of Jeep Wranglers, occurred while the vehicle was moving. Two Jeep vehicle fires occurred while the vehicles were parked and, according to the NHTSA reports on Jalopnik, the engines were running.

[It is remarkably easy to buy a car on credit]

General Motors, according to the Washington Post, is not aware of any injuries or accidents that were caused by the two reported fires in Chevrolet Cruze models. At least one was a Cruze Eco.

Chrysler is also aware of the reports and is not aware of any injuries or accidents caused by a vehicle fire in the Jeep Wrangler. Chrysler also released a statement that “vehicle fires are very complex” and that, among other causes, “Poor maintenance, improper vehicle use or installation of aftermarket equipment” could cause a vehicle fire. Wranglers are often modified by owners, given the vehicle’s ubiquity as an off-road vehicle and several of the owner complaints of fires involved vehicles that had been modified with after market equipment.

The Chinese connection

According to Jalopnik, one owner who complained to the NHTSA, Sean Heiney of Ann Arbor, Mich., was offered generous compensation by Chrysler in the form of buying the vehicle back for more than MSRP, conditioned on non-disclosure. Other Jeep owners have reported similar vehicle fires in online forums.

Jeep Wrangler fires have been reported before. Fires in Wranglers led to the Chinese government halting imports of Jeep Wranglers in April of 2011. Jeep issued a recall in China but, according to Businessweek, Chinese regulatory authorities were still reporting that Wranglers were still susceptible to vehicle fires as of November 2011.

Sources

Washington Post

Forbes

Jalopnik

Businessweek: http://www.businessweek.com/news/2011-11-16/china-says-chrysler-s-wrangler-jeep-still-has-quality-problem.html

Jalopnik: http://jalopnik.com/5894966/did-jeep-offer-an-owner-hush-money-to-keep-quiet-about-fire-risk

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