Chrysler recalls 1.56 million Jeep Grand Cherokee, Liberty SUVs over fire hazard

by Heygood Orr and Pearson

Chrysler has recalled 1.56 million Jeep Grand Cherokee and Jeep Liberty SUVs after they were linked to an increased risk of deadly fires caused by rear end collisions. The recalled vehicles include all 2002-2007 Jeep Liberty and 1993-1998 Jeep Grand Cherokee SUVs. Chrysler reached an 11th hour deal to recall the two SUVs after being ordered to issue a recall notice two weeks ago by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

NHTSA’s order to recall the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Liberty came after a three year study found the two SUVs were more likely than other vehicles to cause a deadly car fire after being involved in a rear end collision. The plastic gas tank located in the rear of the two vehicles is prone to damage when struck during an accident, increasing the likelihood of a gasoline leak that could lead to a deadly fire. According to NHTSA, at least 51 deaths involving 37 separate rear end collisions have been blamed on the Jeep Cherokee and Jeep Liberty.

As part of the Chrysler Jeep recall, Chrysler agreed to add a rear trailer hitch at no cost to owners of the recalled vehicles. Owners of the SUVs can have their vehicles inspected for free at a Chrysler dealership. Vehicles with a damaged or missing trailer hitch, or one that was not manufactured by Mopar—Chrysler’s parts supplier—can have a new hitch installed on the vehicle at no charge.

NHTSA had initially called on Chrysler to recall an additional 1.1 million Jeep Grand Cherokee models covering the years 1999-2004. As part of its last minute deal with the agency, Chrysler will only perform a “customer service action” on these vehicles. These vehicles will still be eligible for a free inspection by a Chrysler dealer and to have non-Chrysler hitches replaced. However, SUVs without a trailer hitch will not be eligible to have one installed by Chrysler for free.