NHTSA Defect Investigations for the 2003 Jeep Grand Cherokee

The Office of Defects Investigations (ODI) is an office within the NHTSA which investigates serious safety problems in the design, construction or performance of vehicles. The NHTSA is authorized to order manufacturers to recall and repair vehicles, if the ODI finds a safety issue. NHTSA investigations for the 2003 Jeep Grand Cherokee, both ongoing and closed, are listed below:

  1. Jeep inadvertent air bag deployment NHTSA Defect Investigation #RQ14001

    Component(s): Air Bags
    Air Bags: Roll Protection
    Air Bags:Frontal
    Air Bags:Frontal:Driver Side Inflator Module
    Air Bags:Frontal:Sensor/Control Module
    Air Bags:Side/Window

    Summary: The Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) opened an investigation based on consumer allegations of inadvertent air bag deployments (IABD) occurring after the recall remedy for NHTSA recall 12V-527 had been installed on recalled model year (MY ) 2002-2003 Jeep Liberty and MY 2002-2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee vehicles manufactured by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA).The recall was in response to the Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) investigation EA12-001 during which data provided by FCA indicate that the air bag circuitry inside the Occupant Restraint Control (ORC) module can degrade. ORC degradation can result in an inadvertent air bag deployment, without a crash or impact, while the vehicle is being operated.An IABD may involve frontal, side and belt pretensioner devices, and may result in injuries consisting of burns, cuts and bruises to the upper body region, and or the potential for a loss of control and or crash.The remedy FCA developed for 12V-527 consisted of installing an in-line jumper harness with an integrated electrical filter for the circuits that connect to the air bag modules (squib circuits).This filter is intended to eliminate transient electrical spikes to the ORC which FCA asserted are responsible for the IABDs.ODI has identified a total of 9 NHTSA complaints across all affected vehicles indicating an IABD event occurring after the vehicle had previously been remedied under 12V-527.In addition, FCA reported 12 additional complaints of post-remedy IABD events. The IABD events took place both while driving and while the vehicle was stationary. Six customers incurred injuries consistent with air bag deployments however no crashes were reported.As a response to this investigation, FCA has issued 2 new recalls involving the IABD.On January 27, 2015 FCA notified ODI that it would conduct a safety recall (15V-046) to remedy potential IABD events occurring in 753,176 MY02-03 Jeep Liberty vehicles built through 03/28/03 and MY 2002-2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee vehicles built through 5/23/03.Note that this recall, which was scoped based on field IABD events does not include all MY 2003 Liberty or MY 2004 Grand Cherokee manufactured with the same level ORC module.According to FCA, the ORC degradation and subsequent electrical overstress condition that causes the air bags to deploy inadvertently is not fully remedied with the filter installed during the 12V-527 campaign.To remedy IABDs under 15V-046, FCA will install a new design ORC module using a next generation electrical architecture.The next generation architecture has been used in other non-subject vehicles for many years without evidence of IABD events occurring.In addition to this recall, on October 15, 2015 FCA advised NHTSA that it would conduct safety recall 15V-673 to remedy potential IABD events in the remaining 284,089 MY 2003 Jeep Liberty and MY 2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee vehicles manufactured with the earlier generation ORC module that were not previously recalled.FCA initially did not recall these populations due to the lack of known IABD events.However, FCA is now aware of 7 IABD events occurring in this population. After consultation with ODI regarding the long term durability and noise toughness of the earlier ORC architecture, FCA decided to recall this population also.The recall actions initiated by the manufacturer address the safety risks identified by the investigation.Accordingly, the investigation is closed.The ODI reports cited above can be reviewed at www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/owners/SearchSafetyIssues under the following identification (ODI) numbers: 10622092, 10629705, 10619008, 10618842, 10626762, 10640431, 10631954, 10644684, 10650402.

    NHTSA: For detailed information & supporting documents, see the official NHTSA page concerning investigation #RQ14001 »

  2. Crash Related Fuel Tank Fires NHTSA Engineering Analysis #EA12005

    Component(s): Fuel System, Gasoline:Delivery:Hoses, Lines/Piping, And Fittings
    Fuel System, Gasoline:Storage
    Fuel System, Gasoline:Storage:Tank Assembly
    Fuel System, Gasoline:Storage:Tank Assembly:Filler Pipe And Cap

    Summary: ODI has completed an extensive analysis of rear crash fuel tank system integrity data for the subject Jeep Cherokee, Grand Cherokee and Liberty vehicles (SVs).As of June 2013, ODI knew of 56 post-collision fatal fires, 28 non-fatal fires, and 6 fuel leak incidents (totaling 90 incidents, 75 fatalities and 58 injuries) involving the SVs.Based on this analysis, ODI issued a Recall Request Letter (RRL) on June 3, 2013 requesting that Chrysler recall the Grand Cherokee and Liberty vehicles due to the rate of fatal, non-fatal fire, and fuel leak incidents when compared to peer vehicles (compact and medium SUVs) built during the same time period.In the RRL, ODI described how the location of the aft-mounted fuel tank made the SVs vulnerable to rear impact crash fuel tank failures.During the analysis, besides the high speed/high severity crashes present in both the SV and peer vehicles, ODI observed a significant number of low and moderate speed rear impact crash related fires and leaks, particularly in the Liberty.The data also demonstrated that SVs originally equipped with towing hitch receivers (trailer hitches) appeared to be under-represented in rear-impact related fuel tank failures.In the RRL, ODI requested that Chrysler provide its response by June 18, 2013, otherwise NHTSA might proceed to an Initial Decision that the SVs contain a safety-related defect.Chrysler responded to the RRL on June 4, 2013 and vigorously disputed the tentative findings of the RRL.Among other things, Chrysler argued that the SVs had an overall safety record superior to their peers, met or exceeded all applicable federal motor vehicle safety standards (FMVSS) and only experienced fires in severe high energy rear impacts.Nonetheless, while continuing to maintain that the SVs did not contain a safety-related defect, Chrysler proposed a recall (13V-252) of approximately 2.5M (1.6M currently registered) model year (MY) 1993 - 1998 Grand Cherokee (ZJ) and MY 2002-2007 Liberty (KJ) vehicles on June 18, 2013.The recall remedy submitted by Chrysler would employ a hitch receiver assembly consisting of a steel cross-member behind the fuel tank with forward-projecting arms bolted to the frame rails on either side of the fuel tank.For the MY 1999 - 2004 Grand Cherokee, Chrysler indicated it would conduct a customer satisfaction campaign and inspect vehicles equipped with aftermarket tow hitch receivers, and if necessary, replace any such hitch receivers whose conditionmay increase the risk of fuel system failure in rear crashes.Examination of the available data established that the MY 1999 - 2004 Grand Cherokee did not pose the same magnitude of safety risk as the MY 1993 - 1998 Grand Cherokee and MY 2002-2007 Liberty, particularly in low and moderate speed rear impacts.Because the agency has concluded that the vehicles do not present an unreasonable risk to safety, ODI is closing its investigation of the MY 1999 - 2004 Grand Cherokee.Although it was not within the scope of the Petition initiating this investigation or the Preliminary Evaluation preceding this EA, ODI also examined the performance of the MY 1993 - 2001 Cherokee as part of this investigation.NHTSA's assessment of the available data for the Cherokee did not establish an unreasonable risk in comparison to peer vehicles.ODI does not approve proposed defect remedies.While offering to install hitch receiver assemblies on the MY 1993-1998 Grand Cherokees and 2002-2007 Liberty, Chrysler did not, in ODI's view, provide enough evidence demonstrating the effectiveness of the proposed remedy in rear impacts.The Complete Summary for this Closing Resume (EA12-005) can be seen by opening the following document:www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/acms/cs/jaxrs/download/doc/UCM466679/INCLA-EA12005-9765.PDF

    NHTSA: For detailed information & supporting documents, see the official NHTSA page concerning investigation #EA12005 »

  3. Crash Related Fuel Tank Fires NHTSA Preliminary Evaluation #PE10031

    • Status:
      CLOSED
    • Date Opened: August 23, 2010
    • Date Closed: June 14, 2012
    • Recall: no recall issued

    Component(s): Fuel System, Gasoline:Delivery:Hoses, Lines/Piping, And Fittings
    Fuel System, Gasoline:Storage
    Fuel System, Gasoline:Storage:Tank Assembly
    Fuel System, Gasoline:Storage:Tank Assembly:Filler Pipe And Cap

    Summary: NHTSA has conducted extensive analysis of the data regarding fuel tank integrity for the model year (MY) 1993-2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee (JGC). As a result of that work, the agency has decided to upgrade its safety defect investigation to an Engineering Analysis and to expand the scope of vehicles included in the investigation. NHTSA's assessment of the data collected during this investigation indicates that rear-impact-related tank failures and vehicle fires are more prevalent in the JGC than in the non-Jeep peer vehicles. In addition, the agency's analysis of its FARS data for the peer vehicles and three Jeep models shows a higher incidence of rear-impact, fatal fire crashes for the Jeep products.PE10-031 had focused on the fuel tank system integrity of the JGC vehicles during rear-end collisions and impacts.The fuel tank is located at the rear of the vehicle, between the bumper and axle, and is manufactured from a plastic material (HDPE).Three peer vehicles (across the same MY range as the JGC) were identified for comparative assessment: the Chevrolet Blazer, Ford Explorer, and Toyota 4Runner.ODI has collected and assessed a significant volume of data for the JGC and three peer vehicles under the Defect Petition (DP) 09-005 and PE10-031, much of which was either provided by the petitioner or by the subject and peer manufacturers in response to ODI's information request letters.NHTSA has also utilized its FARS database.Fatal crash data was collected for the JGC and its three peers, along with data for two other Jeep vehicles, the Cherokee and Liberty, which were also manufactured with rear mounted fuel tanks and assessed by ODI as Jeep peer vehicles.Based on the agency's current analysis, ODI is upgrading its investigation to determine whether the subject vehicles contain a defect that presents an unreasonable risk to safety.The subject vehicles for EA12-005 will be MY 1993-2004 JGC, MY 1993-2001 Cherokee, and MY 2002-2007 Liberty; the estimated production volumes for these vehicles is approximately 5.1 million, although attrition is a factor for the older vehicles.Please note that the counts shown in the above failure report summary are for the JGC only (values shown in the total column are unique).Data for the other Jeep models and possibly other peer models will be collected during the investigation.The ODI reports cited above can be reviewed online at www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/owners/SearchNHTSAID under the following identification (ODI) numbers:506249, 549376, 734783, 869217, 10009553, 10335943, 10351589, 10351980, 10357528.

    NHTSA: For detailed information & supporting documents, see the official NHTSA page concerning investigation #PE10031 »

  4. Fuel Storage System Crash Related Fires NHTSA Defect Investigation #DP09005

    • Status:
      CLOSED
    • Date Opened: November 06, 2009
    • Date Closed: August 23, 2010
    • Recall: no recall issued

    Component(s): Fuel System, Gasoline:Delivery:Hoses, Lines/Piping, And Fittings
    Fuel System, Gasoline:Storage
    Fuel System, Gasoline:Storage:Tank Assembly
    Fuel System, Gasoline:Storage:Tank Assembly:Filler Pipe And Cap

    Summary: In a letter dated October 2, 2009, the Center for Auto Safety (CAS) petitioned NHTSA to open a defect investigation and recall model year 1993-2004 Jeep Grand Cherokees.CAS alleged that the subject vehicles have defective fuel tank storage systems that present a fire hazard in crashes. CAS alleged that the plastic fuel tank's placement behind the rear axle and below the rear bumper, and the lack of adequate shielding, make it more vulnerable to rupture or leakage from a rear-impact by another vehicle (including damage from other components located on the Grand Cherokee), or in the case of rollover crashes, from other external objects.CAS also alleged that the fuel filler neck tears off in crashes.In its petition, CAS cites data from NHTSA's Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) showing 172 fatal fire crashes with 254 fatalities involving the subject vehicles from calendar years 1992 through 2008.CAS stated that there have been at least 44 crashes with 64 total fatalities (subject and non-subject vehicles) where fire was entered as the Most Harmful Event (MHE) in the FARS database.In response to the CAS petition, ODI made a preliminary examination of available data.FARS data showed 2,988 occupants of the subject vehicles have died in crashes since 1992.Of those, 55 died in 44 crashes where fire was listed as the Most Harmful Event.Identifying crashes most likely associated with the alleged defect as described by CAS (defined as the subject vehicle being struck at the 5, 6 or 7 o'clock positions) isolated 10 crashes with 13 occupant fatalities.ODI also reviewed the Vehicle Owner Questionnaires (VOQ) database and identified 12 reports alleging A) a post-crash fuel tank leak and/or B) a post-crash fire potentially related to a fuel tank leak.Of the 12 reports, 10 involved fires (two involved fuel leaks only) with 9 alleged injuries and 1 alleged fatality.The existence of these post-crash fires does not, by itself, establish a defect trend.Further review and investigation into these incidents is needed to determine the existence of any relationship between the alleged defect and each fire or leak.It should be noted that ODI also conducted a preliminary review of the Early Warning Reporting (EWR) data that did not find the subject vehicles to be over-represented for post-crash fires.ODI's initial review neither supports nor excludes the possibility that a defect exists in the subject vehicles.However, ODI has always taken the position that vehicle fires pose a significant safety risk.Accordingly, ODI has granted the petition to further investigate the conditions associated with post-crash fires in these vehicles.

    NHTSA: For detailed information & supporting documents, see the official NHTSA page concerning investigation #DP09005 »

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