This week, Chrysler finally announced that it was recalling 2.7 million Jeep Grand Cherokees and Jeep Libertys because of a problem with the fuel tanks. The recall came after a few weeks of pressure from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the public.
The NHTSA has been investigating certain models of Jeep Grand Cherokees and Jeep Libertys for three years. It concluded that the vehicles had a problem with their fuel tanks. According to the NHTSA, if the vehicles’ gas tanks are hit from the rear, they can rupture, causing a fire. The agency claimed that 51 people had died in fiery crashes in Jeeps with gas tanks that were behind the rear axle. The NHTSA requested that Jeep voluntarily recall Jeep Grand Cherokees from model years 1993 through 2004 and Jeep Libertys from 2002 through 2007.
However, two weeks ago, Chrysler said the vehicles weren’t defective, and refused to recall the vehicles, which could have resulted in a public showdown between Chrysler and the NHTSA. This week, Chrysler reversed its position and agreed to recall 2.7 million vehicles. Dealers will install trailer hitches on the vehicles to protect the gas tanks. If Chrysler had not agreed to the recall, there could have been public hearings on the issue which would have been damaging to its reputation.
Although automakers have profits in the hundreds of millions and billions of dollars, they are frequently reluctant to recall dangerous vehicles because of the expense. If they fail to recall a defective vehicle, and a person is hurt or killed in that vehicle as a result, the automaker can and should be held responsible.