The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has opened investigations into two popular Chrysler vehicles: the 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee and the 2009-10 Ram 1500.
According to Detroit News, NHTSA has received two complaints of fires in the Grand Cherokee, which may have been caused by power steering fluid leaking onto the SUV's engine components. (You might recall that a similar problem in the Chrysler PT Cruiser has recently been at the center of Congressional debate about auto repairs and rental car companies.)
In another Grand Cherokee, NHTSA reports that a steering fluid leak resulted in the loss of power steering functionality.
Customer complaints about the 2009-10 Ram 1500 are no less harrowing. NHTSA has received at least 12 complaints of the trucks' rear wheels locking up -- possibly due to a problem with the vehicles' differential. Four of those incidents resulted in drivers losing control of their vehicle, and in one case, a Ram collided with a concrete barrier.
All told, NHTSA's investigations include 106,803 Jeep Grand Cherokees and another 230,000 Ram trucks. Chrysler says that it is cooperating with both investigations.
These NHTSA probes, of course, aren't official recalls of the Grand Cherokee or Ram 1500. Before that can happen, NHTSA will need to spend a lot of time evaluating customer complaints and, if necessary, testing vehicles on its own. Meanwhile, Chrysler will likely conduct its own studies of the Grand Cherokee and the Ram 1500, which could result in earlier recalls.
If you own either of these vehicles, there's nothing to be done just yet. However, you can sign up for recall notices directly from NHTSA: just visit the agency's recall notification page and provide the make/model of your vehicle, as well as your email address.
We'll keep you posted as these investigations progress.