Jeep's Grand Cherokee nameplate has been drawing lots of media attention lately -- not all of it good.
The Grand Cherokee found itself at the center of a contentious recall earlier this summer when the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration claimed that the placement of the gas tank on certain models exposed the Grand Cherokee to a greater fire risk. Jeep was reluctant to initiate a recall, but when the brand's reputation began suffering, Jeep finally relented.
According to the New York Times, the 2012 model of the Grand Cherokee is now being investigated for a different fire risk -- one that seems to originate in the vehicle's headliner.
NHTSA has received three complaints about fires breaking out above the sun visor on the passenger's side. Here's a clip from NHTSA's summary report (PDF):
The customers reported a burning odor and visible smoke coming from the headliner while the vehicle was being driven. This was followed by flames from the headliner itself. Customers lowered the windows in an effort to clear the smoke but this increased the fire's intensity. All three vehicles had to be extinguished with a fire extinguisher or by the fire department as they continued to burn after the vehicle was turned off. The fire also caused the sunroof to shatter in one incident, and in another the fire spread to the passenger seat when the burning sun visor fell onto the seat.
Thankfully, no injuries or fatalities have been reported to date. Chrysler says that it is cooperating with NHTSA's investigation and is also conducting its own probe into the matter.
While the 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee isn't yet being recalled, NHTSA's probe is the first of several steps toward that potential end. If NHTSA determines that an official recall is warranted, it would affect some 146,000 vehicles in the U.S. Stay tuned.