The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported in early April that it was investigating reports of engine fires in the Chevrolet Cruze small car and Jeep Wrangler SUV. As we have reported on numerous occasions, NHTSA investigations can lead to vehicle recalls. To date there has been no recall.
The agency has received two reports of fires in the 2011 model year Chevrolet Cruze. In both cases, the fires started while the cars were moving and destroyed the vehicles. A GM spokesman says the company knows of no deaths or injuries related to the issue and that GM is cooperating with the investigation.
When the Wrangler investigation was announced, NHTSA had only received eight reports of fires in 2010 model year Jeep Wranglers, but that investigation was soon expanded. The investigation now includes 23 complaints of fires in Jeep Wrangler SUVs. NHTSA says it hasn’t figured out what caused the fires, but it’s asking Chrysler for information on Wranglers from the 2007 through 2012 model years. When it began March 28, the probe centered on vehicles from the 2010 model year.
The classic Wrangler is among Chrysler’s more popular models, appealing to people who like its rugged looks and want to go off-road. Chrysler sold more than 532,000 Wranglers from 2007 through March 2012. It’s unknown how many are affected by the investigation. The probe comes at a critical time for Chrysler, which has had quality problems in the past, but showed improvement in an annual study by Consumer Reports magazine. The company, which incidentally is majority owned by Italian automaker Fiat SpA, is making a good comeback from its 2009 bankruptcy and restructuring. It posted a net profit last year for the first time since 1997.
According to the NHTSA website, the agency has received 23 complaints about fires in Wranglers from the six model years. Four people were hurt, including three who received minor burns and one whose injuries were not explained in the complaints. Two houses were damaged. NHTSA is focusing on overheated transmission fluid and electrical wiring as possible causes. It has asked Chrysler for information about allegations of smoke or fire in Wrangler engine compartments. The company has until the 22nd of this month to respond. It’s common for the agency to expand investigations to include similar vehicles. The investigation could lead to a recall, but there isn’t one yet.
According to Chrysler, the company was aware of a small number of fires in Wranglers and it has been cooperating with the investigation. Vehicle fires, the company says, are complex and can occur for many reasons unrelated to the vehicle’s design and manufacture. As mentioned above, the safety agency also is investigating reports of engine fires in the Chevrolet Cruze small car from the 2011 model year.
Source: Insurance Journal
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