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Chrysler Says No to NHTSA Recall Request

Jun 5, 2013

In an unusual move, Chrysler Corporation has refused a request by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to recall 2.7 million Jeeps, disputing the agency’s collision data.

The NHTSA said the Jeeps’ rear-mounted gas tanks could catch fire in a rear-end collision, according to ABCNews, but the company said the vehicles are safe and it will not recall them. The Jeeps included in the request are 1993-2004 Grand Cherokees and 2002-2007 Libertys.

Without Chrysler’s compliance, the NHTSA would need a court order to enforce a recall. David Strickland, NHTSA administrator, said he hopes Chrysler will reconsider its decision, ABCNews reports. “Our data shows that these vehicles may contain a defect that presents an unreasonable risk to safety,” Strickland said in a statement.

The NHTSA investigation of the Jeeps began in August 2010, at the request of the Center for Auto Safety, a consumer advocacy group. The agency found that the Jeeps’ fuel tanks can fail in a rear-end collision and can leak fuel, possibly causing fires. The NHTSA said the placement and height of the tank above the road are design defects, according to ABCNews.

Chrysler changed the Grand Cherokee’s fuel tank position in 2005 and the Liberty’s in 2007, repositioning the gas tank ahead of the rear axle. But retrofitting the older Jeeps would be very expensive, ABCNews reports. An industry analyst estimated that a 2011 Toyota recall cost $240 million. Toyota recalled 1.7 million cars to correct possible fuel leaks from loose fuel pressure sensors.

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