Update: Chrysler relents, will recall 1.56 million Jeeps [Recall details]
We now have more details on the massive Jeep Grand Cherokee and Liberty recall.
After declining the federal government's request that it recall about 2.7 million Jeep vehicles over concerns that their rear-mounted plastic fuel tanks could rupture in an impact, Chrysler has changed its course.
The Michigan-based automaker said yesterday in a statement that it will recall a total 1.56 million Jeep Grand Cherokee and Jeep Liberty SUVs to inspect their trailer hitches, although about a million other Grand Cherokee models are potentially affected by the fuel tank design.
Just what upgrades will Jeep perform? The automaker says that a proper trailer hitch can help mitigate the risk of a punctured fuel tank. As a result, it will install trailer hitches on certain Liberty and Grand Cherokee models.
1993-1998 Grand Cherokee (ZJ): Jeep will inspect aftermarket hitches to ensure they don't contain sharp edges that could puncture the fuel tank. If they do, Jeep will replace them at no charge. In addition, Jeep will inspect its own factory-supplied hitches. If they contain any sharp edges, they will be replaced.
2002-2007 Liberty (KJ): Jeep will inspect aftermarket hitches to ensure they don't contain sharp edges that could puncture the fuel tank. If they do, Jeep will replace them at no charge. In addition, Jeep will inspect its own factory-supplied hitches. If they contain any sharp edges, they will be replaced.
1999-2004 Grand Cherokee (WJ): Jeep will conduct what it calls a "customer satisfaction action" to inspect aftermarket trailer hitches. If a hitch is found to contain sharp edges, it will be replaced with a new hitch. Jeep says that it won't be inspecting vehicles built with factory-installed hitches or those that had its Mopar accessory hitches installed by dealers.
Because federal law states that automakers aren't responsible for shouldering the costs of vehicles built more than 10 years ago, Chrysler is not obligated to make any repairs to models built after about May of 2003, reports Allpar.
NHTSA has been putting pressure on Chrysler to call back the popular SUVs after 15 deaths and 41 injuries have been attributed to a fuel tank design located between the SUVs' rear axle and rear bumper. The plastic fuel tanks are clearly visible below the SUVs' rear bumpers.
However, Chrysler has long denied that there is any risk. Said Chrysler earlier this month: "[Both Jeeps] met and exceeded all applicable requirements of the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards."
Chrysler continues to stand by that assertion, even though it has agreed to recall the vehicles. Today, it stated that its analysis of data provided by NHTSA "confirms that [the Jeeps] are not defective and are among the safest in the peer group."
Still, it says it is recalling the vehicles "to provide additional measures to supplement the safety of its vehicles."
Chrysler and NHTSA haven't said when they will begin alerting owners of affected vehicles.