Feds open safety probes into 337,000 Chrysler Group vehicles
WASHINGTON -- U.S. regulators have opened safety probes into nearly 337,000 Chrysler Group SUVs and pickups.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is investigating 106,803 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SUVs for power steering hoses that may fail, causing fluid to leak and possibly ignite when in contact with hot surfaces.
The agency also is examining reports of problems with the rear wheel locking up on 2009-10 Dodge Ram 1500 pickups, according to documents posted on NHTSA's Web site. The probe covers an estimated 230,000 vehicles.
"Chrysler Group takes seriously every customer complaint and is cooperating fully with NHTSA," a Chrysler spokesman said.
On the 2012 Grand Cherokee, NHTSA said it has received one complaint of a hose failure and has identified others in field reports submitted by Chrysler.
It also has received two reports of engine fires within the past month, although the causes are unknown, NHTSA said. In both cases, the fires resulted in total losses of the vehicles. One complaint reported fluid dripping under the SUV. No injuries or fatalities were reported.
Regulators also have received 12 complaints of rear differential failures at various speeds on the 2009-10 Ram 1500, including eight incidents occurring at 35 mph or more. No injuries or fatalities were reported.
Four of the complaints were at high speeds and resulted in loss of control. One resulted in a crash into a concrete barrier. Another report said that the failure was caused by a loosening of the differential pinion nut.
Most complaints allege a drive shaft failure, including one that reported a detached shaft end that punctured the fuel tank.
The investigations are the latest to emerge into Chrysler vehicles. Last month, the company learned that regulators had added about 2 million Jeeps to an ongoing investigation into potential fire hazards.
In 2010, the agency opened a preliminary investigation into 3 million 1993-2004 Grand Cherokees to determine whether reports of more than a dozen post-crash fires are connected to the fuel tank placement.
It later broadened its probe to include 1993-2001 Jeep Cherokees and 2002-07 Libertys and upgraded the investigation to an engineering analysis, moving it one step closer to a possible recall.