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Fiat Chrysler recalls 467K SUVs for fuel pump issue

David Shepardson
Detroit News Washington Bureau

Washington — Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV said Friday it will recall 467,480 SUVs worldwide to install a new electronic circuit to address fuel pump issues — the latest recall for the issue that comes four months after the U.S. government opened an investigation.

The new recall comes six months after a prior recall for the same issue and covers 2012-13 Dodge Durango full-size SUVs and 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee mid-size SUVs equipped with 3.0-liter diesel engines sold outside North America. The recall covers about 338,216 vehicles in the U.S.; 18,991 in Canada; 10,829 in Mexico and 99,444 outside the NAFTA region.

Fiat Chrysler engineers found the condition identified in a previous recall campaign could impact additional vehicles. The company previously linked a series of repairs to fuel-pump relays that are susceptible to deformation to problems with fuel-pump function, preventing a vehicle from starting, or leading to engine stall. Fiat Chrysler said it is not aware of any related crashes.

The fuel-pump relay is located inside the totally integrated power module, or TIPM, which also helps manage other vehicle functions. Fiat Chrysler said none of these other functions, including air-bag deployment, is affected by the fuel-pump relay.

In October, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said it has agreed to review a request to open a formal investigation into 4.9 million 2007-14 Chrysler vehicles over electronic failures that may be linked to engine stalling, air bag non-deployments, unintended acceleration or vehicle fires.

In August, the Center for Auto Safety petitioned NHTSA to open a formal investigation into Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep SUVs, pickups and minivans over allegations of failures surrounding the totally integrated power module, focused on a version known as TIPM-7.

NHTSA will decide whether to open a formal defect investigation after it finishes its review of the petition.

In early September, Chrysler said it was recalling 188,000 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge Durango SUVS because they may experience a failure in the fuel pump relay within the totally integrated power module, which can result in a failure to start or stall condition.

Last year, Chrysler said the root cause has been identified as deformation of a contact spring due to the heat caused by power, ambient temperature around the fuel pump relay, and battery voltage. Chrysler said if the vehicle stalls it will maintain power to the air bags. The recall covers vehicles with the TIPM-7 modules, but Chrysler's recall said the module itself wasn't defective, but a relay within the module.

Chrysler told NHTSA in September its investigation was prompted in October 2013 when module parts went on national backorder. Chrysler did an analysis of 10 fuel pump relays as it investigated the issue. Chrysler will install a new fuel pump relay outside the module.

Separately, some Chrysler owners have filed a federal lawsuit in California and lawyers asked a judge to issue a preliminary injunction requiring Chrysler to warn its customers "of a potentially dangerous condition in their vehicles” — but a judge didn’t agree to issue the injunction.