Chrysler Group has settled a dispute with the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) by confirming it will inspect more than 1.5 million Jeep vehicles highlighted by the government body as having safety concerns.
According to industry journal Automotive News, Chrysler has resolved the dispute with the NHTSA by agreeing to inspect 1.56 million Jeep Grand Cherokee SUVs built between 1993 and 1998, and Jeep Liberty models (badged locally as a Jeep Cherokee) built from 2002 to 2007.
The dispute arose after the US car maker said it did not intend to undertake a recall request from the NHTSA of 2.7 million Jeep vehicles specified by the federal administration as having fuel tanks that presented an “unreasonable risk” of fuel leaks and fire if struck in a rear-end collision.
A Chrysler spokesperson told the US publication that vehicles fitted with a factory-installed hitch assembly – or an aftermarket version made by Mopar – did not need to be modified, though 1999 to 2004 Jeep Grand Cherokees that have an aftermarket rear hitch installed will be inspected.
Vehicles without a hitch altogether, or with a factory hitch, will not be subjected to an inspection.
In a statement, Chrysler said it regards safety as a paramount concern and does not compromise on the safety of its customers and their families.
"Chrysler Group recognises that this matter has raised concerns for its customers and wants to take further steps, in coordination with NHTSA, to provide additional measures to supplement the safety of its vehicles.”
The NHTSA says it will continue its investigation into the issue, pending its review of documents provided by Chrysler on the recall action.
Fiat Chrysler Australia says the company's voluntary recall in the US will have an impact locally, with the Australian division to follow suit.
Fiat Chrysler Group’s director of corporate affairs Karla Leach, told CarAdvice that approximately 28,000 Jeep Grand Cherokee (1993-2004) and Jeep Cherokee (2002-2007) vehicles sold in Australia will be recalled, with local authorities set to help in tracking down some cars that are up to 20 years old.
Leach admitted locating the older models would be big task, particularly given Jeeps have been sold through three different Australian distributors over the last 20 years.