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NHTSA ends Jeep fire probe, Chrysler to proceed with recall

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has closed an investigation into older Jeep Cherokees and Libertys concerning a potential fire hazard in the event of an accident. The agency says it has confidence in the plan that Chrysler Group has developed to repair the issue. Closing the investigation allows the automaker to proceed with a recall in Iowa and elsewhere.

The NHTSA believed that Jeep Cherokees and Libertys were more prone than comparable vehicles to catch fire in the event that they were involved in rear-end car accidents that rupture the gas tanks. The agency initially asked Chrysler to recall 2.7 million of the vehicles, but the company argued that there was no statistical proof of the agency's concerns.

After negotiations, Chrysler agreed to recall 1.6 million 1993-98 Jeep Cherokees and 2002-07 Jeep Libertys. It plans to add a trailer hitch to the affected vehicles to give the rear of the vehicles added protection in the event of a rear-end collision. However, safety critics did not believe this was enough, leading the NHTSA to take a closer look into whether the repair plan is sufficient. Now that the agency has no reservations with Chrysler's plan, the recall can proceed.

When defects or potentially harmful situations arise in vehicles or their parts, the law requires the entities that are responsible to issue a recall and notify the owners so that the vehicles or parts can be repaired. The companies that are responsible could be the automaker, the parts manufacturer or the parts distributor. If people are involved in car accidents that are caused by vehicle or part defects and no recall was issued, one or more of these companies could be held liable for any injuries or vehicle damage.

Source: USA Today, "Jeep fire recall can proceed as Feds close probe", January 20, 2014

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