This past spring, Chrysler announced two separate recalls of several models of its Jeep SUVs because of reports of accidents and deaths caused by dangerous defects. The National Health and Safety Transportation Administration (NHTSA) first asked Chrysler to recall some 2.7 million vehicles because of a danger that they are likely to burst into flames if hit from behind, even at low speeds. Chrysler initially refused to recall the Jeeps, even though they have been implicated in 37 car fires and 51 deaths linked to the alleged defect. The affected models are the Jeep Grand Cherokee sold from 1999 to 2004 and the Jeep Liberty from 2002 to 2007.
Effectiveness of the threat of public hearings
Just hours before the deadline, Chrysler reversed course on June 18 and agreed to the recall. If it had not changed its mind, it would have been subject to public hearings in which both safety advocates and the families of fire victims could have testified about the vehicles’ problems. Chrysler still says that the Jeeps are safe, but it agreed to recall these specific model years for inspection, and, “in some cases,” the manufacturer will upgrade the rear structure of the vehicles to make them safer in a crash.
More dangerous Jeeps recalled
At the same time that Chrysler was refusing to recall the Jeep models implicated in the fires, it did agree to recall another 469,000 Jeeps that may suddenly shift into neutral without warning when the vehicles are started. A vehicle in neutral can easily roll away, and the sudden shifts have been implicated in at least 26 accidents resulting in two deaths. The affected models are the 2005 to 2010 Grand Cherokee and the 2006 to 2010 Commanders. The problem is caused by a crack in a circuit board that controls the shifting mechanism.
Take your vehicle in for inspections and repairs
All of the required inspections and repairs, if necessary, will be made at no cost to the Jeeps’ owners. If you own one of the vehicles covered by the crash, you should receive a notice from Chrysler telling you how and where you can have your car serviced. If you do not receive a notice or if you have any questions, call the dealer from who you purchased the vehicle, or any local Chrysler/Jeep dealer.
As we can see from both these recalls, in some cases a significant number of people have to be injured or even killed by a defective vehicle before the manufacturer agrees to recall the affected models and fix the problems.