On another front, the National NHTSA has widened an investigation into Chrysler Group LLC Jeeps. This comes after dozens of new reports that the lights on the vehicles’ sun visors shorted and caused fires. The agency’s Office of Defect Investigations opened a probe into an estimated 146,000 model year 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokees in August. The agency at that time had received three reports of fires from consumers. NHTSA, according to reports, has since learned there might have been 52 such incidents, including at least three injuries.
NHTSA upgraded the probe on Jan. 10 from a preliminary investigation to an engineering analysis. If the analysis indicates the vehicles have a safety defect, NHTSA can ask Chrysler to conduct a recall. The agency also expanded the probe to include an estimated 593,000 Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge Durango vehicles from model years 2011-13. According to NHTSA, the two types of vehicles use the same headliner assembly.
The fires have been caused by electrical shorts in a lighting wiring circuit in the vehicles’ sun visors, according to NHTSA. The agency said that the shorts may occur when screws holding the visors to the interior roof pierce the wiring. NHTSA said “There is no dedicated fuse for the affected circuit so the electrical short can continue until the short clears or the vehicle is keyed off.”
Consumers have complained about incidents from minor overheating to an open flame on the sun visor or interior roof while they were driving the vehicle, according to NHTSA. In some instances, the agency says the fire reportedly engulfed the vehicles’ front seats or door panels. In one case, NHTSA says the fire caused the sunroof to shatter.
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