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Group Urges Jeep Recall Over Fire Danger

Posted by Jane Akre
Tuesday, October 06, 2009 11:05 AM EST
Category: On The Road
Tags: Auto Recall, Fire Danger, Chrysler, Grand Cherokee, Center for Auto Safety

Fatal Fire Danger

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IMAGE SOURCE: Wikimedia Commons/ 2005 Jeep Grand Cherokee

The consumer group, Center for Auto Safety, says that Grand Cherokees, from 1994 to the 2004 model year, have a fatal fire danger and should be recalled.

The Center points to an analysis of fatal fire crashes, Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), which gathers police and medical accident reports. It found 172 fatal fire crashes and 254 deaths resulting after the 1992 Grand Cherokee was introduced up until 2008.

The majority of the fires occurred in the vehicles before the 2005 model year.

The problem appears to be a plastic fuel tank that is behind the rear axle and a short distance from the gas tank. In a crash it can be easily punctured, said Center director, Clarence Ditlow. The plastic fuel tank appears on the 1993 to 2004 models.

The Center for Auto Safety’s petition to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the Center says that the 1993 through 2004 model years have “a fatal crash-fire occurrence rate that is about four times higher than S.U.V.’s made by other companies.”

“The design is so bad that Chrysler frequently settles lawsuits without extensive discovery and subject to confidentiality agreements,” the petition says.

A Chrysler spokesman tells the New York Times the Grand Cherokee meets or exceeds federal safety standards.

Mike Palese of Chrysler says in a statement: “While we design our vehicles to protect the greatest number of motorists in the greatest number of accidents, unfortunately accidents do occur, can be dangerous and, sadly, can sometimes cause injuries and even deaths. Statistically, rear impacts that result in serious injury are rare occurrences. Chrysler Group is confident that a proper study which considered all factors in all collisions, including rear collisions with fire, would show that the 1993-2004 Jeep Grand Cherokees perform as well as or better than other vehicles in their class.”

Despite the ongoing problems, Chrysler asked a judge for immunity from any future product liability lawsuits when it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization earlier this year.

The judge approved that request, but after intense lobbying to Congress by consumer groups, Chrysler announced it would accept legal responsibility for those vehicle accidents that occurred after it emerged from bankruptcy. Hundreds of injury cases that had been pending remain unsettled as the injured must try to collect any assets of the bankrupt company.

The Center for Justice & Democracy, a civil justice nonprofit group, has been chronicling the cases of the injured whose cases remain behind.

When the Grand Cherokee was redesigned in 2005, the petition says the fuel tank was put in front of the rear axle. #


3 Comments

Anonymous User
Posted by Michael Palese
Tuesday, October 06, 2009 12:28 PM EST

The petition presents a simplistic, unsubstantiated review of raw accident data. Indeed, its conclusions are flawed as they are based solely on a database that does not discriminate the cause or origin of a fire. Nor does it contain accurate critical real world accident data that takes into account significant factors that influence crash outcomes, such as the speed of a rear impact and the weight of the vehicles involved. The petition's conclusions and comparisons are, therefore, invalid and their use to draw alarming conclusions about a product with an excellent safety record is misguided and irresponsible.

Statistically, rear impacts that result in serious injury are rare occurrences. Chrysler Group is confident that a proper study which considered all factors in all fatal collisions including rear collisions with fire would show that the 1993-2004 Jeep Grand Cherokees perform as well as or better than other vehicles in their class.

The 1993-2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee meets or exceeds all applicable federal safety standards and, as noted, has an excellent safety record. There are many millions of 1993-2004 Jeep Grand Cherokees on the road whose owners and families continue to enjoy tens of millions of miles and hours of safe vehicle operation each year.

While we design our vehicles to protect the greatest number of motorists in the greatest number of accidents, unfortunately accidents do occur, can be dangerous and, sadly, can sometimes cause injuries and even deaths.



Michael Palese

Chrysler Group LLC
Tel: 248 512-2682
Fax: 248 512-1756
Cell: 313 930-1252
Email/bberryl: mp88@chrysler.com

Anonymous User
Posted by Paul V. Sheridan
Friday, October 09, 2009 5:10 PM EST

For those who would like to go-beyond Chrysler public relations rhetoric, and learn the truth about that company's historical thru current approach to safety, I recommend that you download/read the letter I wrote to Attorney General Janet Reno in October 1999:

LINK

You might wish to review the COLORED TAB and TAB 27 as a quick introduction. This readership will
introduce you to the stark reality behind the PR machinations about "meets or exceeds all applicable federal safety standards."

I also recommend that you take ~ 8 minutes to listen to the Executive Vice President of Chrysler Engineering, Francois Castaing, as he testifies regarding the issue of (Jeep) crashworthiness. This depositon video provides the general attitude of Chrysler executive and engineering management regarding the issue of safety:

LINK

The transcript portion of the above video is provided here:

LINK

The ABC News coverage of this Jeep safety defect, produced/moderated by Silvia Gambardella and Steve Daniels, here:

LINK

Recent coverage of the lack of adequate real-world protection in 1993 thru 2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee against fire death/injury here:

LINK


Review of the TRUE effects and motivations of the so-called Chrysler bankruptcy here:

LINK

LINK

Finally (for now), the Chrysler PR post above states:

"Statistically, rear impacts that result in serious injury are rare occurrences."

We should emphasize that the Jeep Grand Cherokee of Mrs. Susan Kline was very rarely struck in the
rear. Indeed, it was involved in a foreseeable rear-end collision only once.

However, unlike EVERY other 1993 thru 2004 model-year SUV on the world's highways, only the vehicle-type driven by Mrs. Kline in February 2007 used a throw-back to the Ford Pinto design where an exposed fuel tank was located behind the rear axle, in the crush zone, just in front of a flimsy bumper.

Paul V. Sheridan
Former Chairman: Chrysler Safety Leadership Team
National Champion: Civil Justice Foundation
--

Anonymous User
Posted by speakesy
Wednesday, November 04, 2009 9:00 PM EST

I love my Jeep Grand Cherokee. It is one of the best vehicles ever! The CAS can stop trying to make a big deal about this. I wouldn't trade my Jeep for a "Safer" car EVER! I just got done fixing my tweeters and I gotta tell you guys that LINK is the way to go. The stock ones were bad for about a year because I refused to pay the dealership the 140 bucks they wanted to fix it. If Chrysler should do anything at all about the Grand Cherokee it's own up to the fact that they stuck a lot of people with a great vehicle that had low quality dash speakers. Either way I'm happy and I'm keeping this baby until the wheels fall off and even then I will probably bolt them back on again and keep jeepin!

Comments for this article are closed.

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