WASHINGTON — The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has opened an investigation into the effectiveness of a repair for 661,888 2011-'14 Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge Durango SUVs that were recalled for a risk of headliner fires last July.
"A headliner fire may occur near either one of the vehicle's sun visors due to an electrical shorting condition in the vanity lamp wiring," NHTSA said in its problem description.
NHTSA said it has received eight reports of fires occurring after the remedy was installed, with some occupants complaining of smoke sometimes followed by flames erupting in the headliner. No crashes or injuries were alleged in the post-remedy fires.
A "recall query" has been opened by NHTSA.
The recall was prompted following a probe by federal safety investigators during which data provided by Chrysler indicated that the fire is caused by an electrical short in the vanity lamp wiring for either one of the sun visors mounted on the vehicle.
The sun visors are mounted to the roof of the vehicle through the headliner with three metal screws. The original investigation determined that it was possible for the sun-visor wiring to be pierced by one of these screws, or otherwise electrically shorted either during initial vehicle assembly or later headliner area repairs, which may cause an electrical short potentially resulting in fire.
Most of the fires occurred while the vehicle was being driven.
The remedy Chrysler developed consists of a plastic guide way installed on each sun visor that routes the wiring away from the attachment screws, preventing the wiring from being shorted. In order to install the guide way, the headliner most be lowered and the existing sun visor and headliner wiring is rerouted through the guide way and reinstalled.
Fiat-Chrysler spokesman Eric Mayne told Edmunds the automaker is cooperating with the investigation.
Edmunds says: Owners of these vehicles will have to wait for federal safety regulators to finish their work before taking any action.