Chrysler has just been approved to proceed with recall repairs after the government closed its investigation into the safety of older-model Jeeps in the event of a rear-end collision.
The investigation stemmed from a recall indicating a risk that a crash into the rear of the vehicle would rupture the vehicles’ gas tanks, erupting the vehicle into flames. The recall will cover 1.6 million Jeep Cherokees from 1993 to 1998 and Jeep Libertys from 2002 to 2007. The repairs will consist of adding a trailer hitch, if the vehicle doesn’t already have one, in order to provide extra rear-crash protection.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) plans to release its final report on the investigation within a few weeks. According to the Associated Press, the NHTSA has “no reservations” about Chrysler Group’s recall plan for the Jeeps, despite the outcry from safety critics.
A statement released by Chrysler shows it was pleased with the NHTSA’s examination, though previously unhappy about doing the recall: “Chrysler Group commends the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for the diligence demonstrated over the course of this investigation. We share NHTSA’s commitment to safety.”
However, critics are not thrilled with the results of the NHTSA’s investigation. Clarence Ditlow, executive director of the Center for Auto Safety, released a statement saying, “It is tragic that NHTSA approved Chrysler’s sham trailer hitch recall for Jeeps that explode in rear impacts. The government is closing its investigation into older-model Jeeps with fuel tanks that could rupture and cause fires.”
David Strickland, NHTSA’s departing chief, agreed with Chrysler that there was no statistical proof that Jeeps were more prone to fires after a rear crash than other vehicles from the same years.
Strickland even went as far as being quoted saying, “Those vehicles performed at a rate similar to their peers. That is the keystone analysis as to whether something poses an unreasonable risk to safety.”