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Chrysler slow to fix recalled Jeeps

Last summer, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration asked the automaker Chrysler to recall 2.7 million Jeeps over concerns that the vehicles were involved in many fires after rear-end crashes. In a rare response to a request from the nation’s auto safety agency, Chrysler refused.

Instead, the automaker published a paper showing data suggesting that its Jeeps were not involved in a significantly higher number of rear-crash fires compared to other similar vehicles during the same time period. However, Chrysler and the NHTSA eventually agreed to a recall of a fewer number of Jeeps.

As part of the agreement, Chrysler is not required to say that its Jeeps were defective or at fault for rear-crash fires that occurred. Months after the recall was announced, Chrysler finally took steps to build parts that were supposed to repair the vehicles that were recalled, which includes adding a trailer hitch.

Recently, the NHTSA said it would support Chrysler’s plan to add the trailer hitch to improve fuel-tank safety, but the automaker was urged to act faster to make the parts available to the vehicles that have been recalled.

Ultimately, it appears that this showdown between the government agency and the automaker is being prolonged because Chrysler doesn’t want to give the impression that the recalled Jeeps are defective or pose a safety hazard.

However, by dragging its feet, Chrysler is only making it more likely that people could be injured without the added protection of the trailer hitch part. And if people are injured, the automaker could face products liability claims.

Source: USA TODAY, “Feds: Jeep hitch fix works, but recall way too slow,” Chris Woodyard, July 2, 2014

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