Jeep owners are urging the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to insist that Chrysler do more than install trailer hitch assemblies on older Jeep SUVs as well as having the vehicles crash-tested with the protective trailer hitches.
So far, 51 deaths have been reported in rear-end accidents in older Jeep vehicles where gas tanks leaked and caught fire. Chrysler has proposed a remedy of installing trailer hitch assemblies on 1.56-million Jeep SUVs but owners are worried that that fix isn’t sufficient. Affected models include the 1992-1998 Jeep Grand Cherokee and 2002-2007 Jeep Liberty, and though NHTSA hasn’t promised to conduct crash tests, the agency hasn’t ruled it out either.
According to a statement released by NHTSA, the “investigation remains open pending completion of the agency’s review of the remedy announced by Chrysler.” Chrysler stands firm that the affected Jeep models excelled in crash tests conducted for when those vehicles were new, and were even among the “safest in the peer group.”
Clarence Ditlow, head of the Center for Automotive Safety, is pushing NHTSA to crash-test the vehicles using tougher standards that took effect with the 2007 model year. Ditlow believes that there are better fixes available as an option, that are both cheaper and would provide more safety – a plate underneath the gas tank, for example.
NHTSA hasn’t formally signed off on Chrysler’s fix and will continue to remain diligent through the process. According to Chrysler, the trailer hitch remedy will only be a benefit in low- and moderate-speed impact crashes and denies its vehicles performed poorly in crashes. NHTSA however will give the American automaker a chance to see how the affected vehicles are with the trailer hitches.
[Source: Detroit News]
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