More than 3 million Jeep Grand Cherokee sport-utility vehicles could be recalled, if an investigation underway determines they are susceptible to fuel-tank problems.
In an unusual move, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has asked Ford, Toyota and GM for data on their vehicles to assess the Jeep's potential problem, the Detroit News reports.
The NHTSA is studying whether some 1993-2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee utes pose a greater risk of fire in an accident due to the location of their fuel tanks. In these Jeeps, the fuel tank is located under the rear bumper and behind the rear axle, which could make it more vulnerable to damage in a rear-end collision or in a rollover accident.
The agency is looking at reports from the Chevy Blazer/TrailBlazer, Ford Explorer and Toyota 4Runner to come to an incident rate as it steps up the investigation, which came after a consumer group petitioned for a recall last year.
Safety groups charge the Jeep has a far higher rate of fatal vehicle fires; by the Center for Auto Safety's count, the Grand Cherokees in question were involved in 172 fatal crashes ending in a fire, for the years 1992-2008.[Detroit News]