NHTSA reviews 4.9M Chrysler vehicles
Washington — The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said Monday it will open a formal review into 4.9 million Chrysler SUVs, trucks and vans after reports of electronic failures that could lead to stalling, failure of lights and air bags and fires.
The federal auto safety agency said in a notice posted Monday on its website it will review an Aug. 21 petition from the Center for Auto Safety to begin a defect investigation into failures associated with the totally integrated power module installed in 2007-14 Chrysler SUVs, trucks and vans.
The center said in its petition that the component’s problems has led to complaints of “engine stall; air bag non-deployment; random horn, headlight, taillight, door lock, instrument panel and windshield wiper activity; failure of fuel pump shutoff resulting in unintended acceleration; and fires.”
Chrysler said in a statement it is cooperating with NHTSA and “actively investigating customer complaints and retrieving components from the field for closer analysis.”
The petition cites 70 complaints received by the center that are allegedly related to failure of the power module. It notes that a class-action lawsuit has been filed. Of the 70 complaints, six were not equipped with the module and another appears to be a different issue.
NHTSA said its defect petition review will focus on vehicles equipped with the modules. NHTSA’s initial analysis of the 64 relevant complaints show 51 reports alleging incidents of engine stall or no-start. Three complaints reported incidents of smoke or fire.
The center said it has reviewed 24 crashes from NHTSA’s Early Warning Reporting database that it believes may be related to the module failures.
Earlier this month, Chrysler told NHTSA it was recalling 188,000 2011 Dodge Durango and Jeep Grand Cherokee vehicles for a safety defect in the power module for vehicles equipped with 3.6-liter and 5.7-liter engines. The recall includes 230,000 vehicles worldwide.
Chrysler said some vehicles may experience a failure in the fuel pump relay within the module which can result in a no-start or stall condition. Of the center’s 63 complaints, 36 involve 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge Durango vehicles equipped with 3.6-liter and 5.7-liter engines.
NHTSA will decide whether to grant the petition and open a formal defect investigation — a step it must take before it could seek to require a recall.