Feds Issue Urgent Consumer Advisory on Recalled Jeep SUVs | Edmunds

Feds Issue Urgent Consumer Advisory on Recalled Jeep SUVs

WASHINGTON — The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration late Thursday issued a consumer advisory urging owners of recalled Jeep SUVs at risk of gas tank fires in rear-end collisions to get them fixed immediately.

"NHTSA urges owners of recalled 2002-'07 Jeep Liberty and 1993-'98 Jeep Grand Cherokee vehicles to contact their local dealer to arrange a service appointment to receive the free remedy repair for their vehicles," said the notice, which was posted on the NHTSA Web site.

It added: "Chrysler reports it currently has nearly 400,000 parts available to repair vehicles covered by this recall and will continue to produce parts to ensure they are able to meet consumer demand for the repair."

David Friedman, the deputy administrator of NHTSA also sent an urgent letter to Chrysler Group CEO Sergio Marchionne questioning the pace of the recall.

"NHTSA also issued a letter to Chrysler today expressing concerns with the manufacturer's current efforts to repair the recalled vehicles," the agency said. "In its most recent update, Chrysler reports that the company has remedied only approximately 3 percent of affected vehicles of a population of more than 1.5 million.

"The agency is pushing the manufacturer to accelerate efforts to repair the recalled vehicles by proactively reaching out to affected owners with accurate information on the safety defect and the availability of the free remedy repair."

Dealers will install trailer hitches to protect the gas tanks, which are located below the rear bumper on the older Jeeps.

NHTSA said Chrysler's recall remedy "addresses the fuel tank ruptures and fires that can occur if the vehicle is struck from behind in a low- to medium-speed crash."

The agency tested the repair and said it closed its safety-defect investigation into the matter because it "believes the risk of fuel tank ruptures and fires in lower- to medium-speed rear end crashes will be reduced by the remedy now offered by Chrysler."

NHTSA said it will continue to monitor the repair and Chrysler's efforts to notify vehicle owners and its effort to fix the vehicles.

The agency's so-called "closing resume" on the investigation notes that the "Chrysler hitch receiver provides incremental safety benefits in certain low- and moderate-speed crash incidents," but adds "the remedy will not necessarily be effective in the most severe crashes."

Chrysler spokesman Eric Mayne said the automaker is "intensifying its outreach to customers to encourage them to schedule service."

"Additionally, Chrysler Group has redoubled its efforts to enable repairs by ensuring dealers stock a sufficient inventory of parts to quickly deliver service to customers."

Chrysler has also begun calling some customers who have not responded and next month will launch initial phases of a new outreach strategy that focuses on more online information, along with a feature that will enable customers to schedule installation service online.

As of Thursday, Mayne said 137,729 vehicles had been processed and that there are 488,291 parts in the system.

Edmunds says: Consumers who have concerns about their ability to get parts in this recall should contact Chrysler customer service at 1-800-247-9753.

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