2007 Jeep Liberty SportEnlarge Photo
Feds: Grand Cherokee has a defect
For determining whether this would be considered a safety defect, the federal agency collected post-crash fire information for the Grand Cherokee versus its peer vehicles at the time—the General Motors S10 Blazer, Ford Explorer, Toyota 4Runner, Isuzu Rodeo, Isuzu Trooper, Mitsubishi Montero, Suzuki Sidekick , and Suzuki XL-7 were mentioned.
The agency then adjusted for the number remaining on the road using Polk registration data, and found that the fatal incident rate was far higher than most of those vehicles.
NHTSA notes that it has tentatively attributed 44 deaths over 32 rear-impact fire crashes to the issue with the Grand Cherokee, while seven deaths over five crashes have been attributed to the issue in the Liberty. The letter also includes several pictures of affected vehicles, burned out or in flames, after being rear-ended by other Chrysler vehicles.
Chrysler: Fed analysis isn't correct
Chrysler, which has been sharing data with the Agency since 2010, says that the fed's analysis isn't correct. “Our analysis shows the incidents, which are the focus of this request, occur less than once for every million years of vehicle operation,” stated the automaker. “This rate is similar to comparable vehicles produced and sold during the time in question.”
The automaker meanwhile, invites concerned owners to call its customer care line at 800-334-9200.