Chrysler Runs Into More Trouble With NHTSA

ChryslerOfficials with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) say that they have begun an investigation regarding additional problems with Jeep Grand Cherokee SUVS, this time with those models manufactured in 2012.

The problem yet again appears to be one of flammability, though for a different reason, with several consumers complaining that sun visors in their 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokees caught fire.

NHTSA Battles With Chrysler

The trouble comes on the heels of a rough summer for Chrysler and its parent company, Fiat. Chrysler and the NHTSA had been involved in a lengthy game of chicken regarding the recall of older model Grand Cherokees which the safety agency said posed a risk of deadly car fires in the event of a rear-end collision. The NHTSA gathered reports of 51 deaths connected with the rear-located fuel tank.

The NHTSA asked Chrysler to agree to recall millions of Jeeps made between 1993 and 2004, something the car company refused to do. The standoff ultimately worked to Chrysler’s benefit, with the NHTSA agreeing to favorable terms for the car company as well as to allowing a reduction in the number of vehicles that ultimately had to be recalled.

2012 Jeep Cherokee Sun Visors Catch Fire

The latest episode impacts nearly 150,000 models made during the 2012 model year. Complaints from several consumers have all noted a burning odor and smoke coming from the sun visor while the SUVs were in motion. This smoke eventually turned to flames and then spread across the roof of the car as the customers rolled their windows down, inadvertently fanning the flames. The complaints all noted that the fires continued to burn even after the cars were turned off. The fires were only ever extinguished by emergency responders who had to use fire extinguishers.

According to the NHTSA the complaints have so far been clustered very closely together, with all the reports coming within the past four months. One report involved even more serious damage, with the fire spreading to an occupied passenger seat after the charred remains of the sun visor fell onto the upholstery.

Heat Source Near Visor Responsible

So far preliminary investigations indicate that a heat source near the visor is responsible for the combustion. No one yet knows what specifically is behind the fire, whether it’s bad wiring or a flaw in the materials of the visor. Investigators with the NHTSA hope that their preliminary investigation reveals the nature of the trouble and that a recall can quickly be initiated before any other drivers are injured.

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Source: “U.S. regulators probe fires in 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee,” by, published at Reuters.com.

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R. Timothy Morrison

Tim Morrison graduated from the University of Alabama in Birmingham with a B.S. in 1972 and a J.D. from the University of Alabama in 1976. He was a member of the University of Alabama Law Review from 1975-1976. Following his graduation from the University of Alabama, Morrison clerked for Justice Janie L. Shores, Alabama Supreme […] Full Bio

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Caroline McGlamry graduated cum laude with a B.A. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2009. Caroline spent a year working in Washington, D.C. before furthering her studies at the University of Georgia School of Law where she graduated with a J.D. in 2013. While in law school, Caroline served as the […] Full Bio