NHTSA Defect Investigations for the 2003 Jeep Liberty

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 Liberty, 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. Inadvertent Air Bag Deployment NHTSA Engineering Analysis #EA12001

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

    Summary: The investigation was opened based on reports of frontal air bag inadvertent deployments (ABIDs) on model year (MY) 2002-2003 Jeep Liberty vehicles.Data provided by Chrysler indicate that the air bag squib filter circuitry inside the Occupant Restraint Control (ORC) module can degrade and result in an inadvertent air bag deployment, without a crash or impact, while the vehicle is being operated on the roadway.As of Oct. 04, 2012, ODI is aware of 131 frontal ABIDs on the Jeep Liberty vehicles resulting in 62 injuries consisting of burns, cuts and bruises to the upper body region.There were no reports of loss of vehicle control or vehicle crashes.Some owners noted that the air bag warning light (ABL) and/or chime had activated just seconds prior to the air bag deployment, while others stated that they did not observe any prior ABL illumination.Chrysler's analysis found there were no reports of ABID on Liberty vehicles build after March 28, 2003, a date which coincides with a filter circuit design change in the ORC module.The Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge Viper were identified as having the same basic circuit.ODI is aware of 61 frontal ABIDs with 31 injuries on the Grand Cherokee and none on the Dodge Viper.In its Nov. 07, 2012 letter (12V-527), Chrysler announced plans to recall 744,822 Jeep Vehicles (MY02-03 Liberty through 03/28/03 and MY02-04 Grand Cherokee through 5/23/03).The remedy consists of installing an in-line jumper harness with an integrated squib circuit electrical filter.In addition, in Feb 05, 2013 letter (13V-040), Chrysler added the MY03-04 Dodge Viper (through 6/30/04) with a similar remedy, bringing the total number of recalled vehicles to 748,482.During the investigation ODI contacted the ORC module supplier (TRW) to determine the usage of this circuitry in other manufacturers-€™ vehicles.As a result, ODI sent peer Information Request (IR) letters to five other manufactures.Toyota's response identified 72 frontal ABIDs resulting in 31 injuries.The rate and failure mode/trend were consistent with the subject defective issue as reported by Chrysler.In a Jan. 30, 2013 letter (13V-029), Toyota announced plans to recall 897,709 MY2003-2004 Corolla/Matrix and Pontiac Vibe vehicles and will utilize a similar remedy to that of Chrysler consisting of adding an in-line noise filter to its air bag wire harness.Honda's IR response reported 126 unique ABIDs for both frontal, side impact and/or side curtain air bag deployments across 4 models and 800k vehicles.However upon further review, no more than 25 of the reports appeared to be frontal ABIDs.The remaining involved less aggressive non-frontal ABIDs mainly stemming from side sensors that trigger side and/or side curtain air bags upon undercarriage debris strike or heavy door slams.The Honda rates are lower than those from the recalled Liberty and Toyota models, and with the exception of the MY 2002-2003 Odyssey, the other Honda models' failure mode/trend was also less severe.ODI will continueto monitor the affected Honda models.There were no reports of ABIDs from the other three peer manufacturers.It should be noted that since the October 2012 data collection date, ODI has received 4 additional Jeep Liberty and 2 Jeep Grand Cherokee reports for frontal ABIDs with two reports alleging loss of vehicle control and crashes. To date, the ORC modules from the two crash vehicles have not been available for detailed analysis by Chrysler or ODI, so the cause of the ABIDs cannot be confirmed at this time.Accordingly the investigation is closed.The ODI reports cited above can be reviewed at www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/owners/SearchNHTSAID under the following identification: 10055405 10166706 10249231 10283484 10335637 10399551 10407276 10428411 10429306 10429579 10435710 10442497 10445840 10446269 10446271 10446972 10448277 10452718 10454657 10455345 10457590 10458823 10463405 10465663 10465861 10467781 10474062 10475197

    NHTSA: For detailed information & supporting documents, see the official NHTSA page concerning investigation #EA12001 »

  3. Inadvertent Air Bag Deployment NHTSA Preliminary Evaluation #PE11035

    • Status:
      CLOSED
    • Date Opened: September 23, 2011
    • Date Closed: January 30, 2012
    • Recall: no recall issued

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

    Summary: Based on analysis of Chrysler's response, and including ODI's consumer complaints, ODI has identified 87 reports of air bag inadvertent deployment incidents resulting in 50 alleged injuries.The injuries consists of burn/cuts and bruises to the upper body region.Forty-two (42) of the 87 incidents involved the driver frontal air bag, and the remaining 45 incidents involved both the driver and passenger frontal air bags inadvertently deploying without a crash.These incidents occurred both at vehicle startup or while the vehicle is being operated on the roadway.Some owners noted that the air bag warning light had illuminated, or had intermittently illuminated, and that this occurred just prior to the air bag deployment, while others stated they did not observe any illumination of the air bag light. Inspection of the Occupant Restraint Control (ORC) module conducted by Chrysler indicates that an internal electronic circuit (an ASIC chip) which controls air bag deployment fails due to an electrical over stress (EOS) condition possibly caused by a transient voltage spike.Chrysler is in the process of identifying potential root causes of the component failure and/or a source for the electrical over stress.In addition, Chrysler noted that there have been no reports of inadvertent air bag deployment in vehicles manufactured after a March 19, 2003 production date.However, Chrysler had not identified a component or other change that would explain why the inadvertent deployments ceased. Accordingly, this investigation has been upgraded to an Engineering Analysis (EA12-001) to further study the alleged defect and its consequences.The ODI reports cited above can be reviewed at www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/owners/SearchNHTSAID under the following identification (ODI) numbers: 10435710 10429579 10429306 10428411 10407276 10399551 10335637 10283484 10249231 10166706 10055405

    NHTSA: For detailed information & supporting documents, see the official NHTSA page concerning investigation #PE11035 »

  4. 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 »

  5. UPPER BALL JOINT SEPARATION NHTSA Preliminary Evaluation #PE07062

    • Status:
      CLOSED
    • Date Opened: December 17, 2007
    • Date Closed: April 18, 2008
    • Recall: no recall issued

    Component(s): Suspension
    Suspension:Front:Control Arm:Upper Ball Joint

    Summary: ODI has received 22 complaints of upper ball joint separation on model year 2002 and 2003 Jeep Liberty 4X4 vehicles.the separation of an upper ball joint on either of the front wheels can result in the affected front wheel collapsing, possibly resulting in vehicle disablement and causing a loss of vehicle control.there is one complaint of a failure at 75 mph, 1 failure at 60 mph, 3 failures at 40 mph, 2 failures at 25 mph, 7 failures occurring while the driver was pulling into the flow of traffic and 2 failures that occurred when the driver was attempting to make a left turn across the flow of oncoming traffic.one complainant alleged almost being hit by an oncoming truck as a result of the vehicle suddenly being disabled in the flow of crossing traffic.another reported the collapse of the front right wheel when making a left turn caused the vehicle to swerve to the right, as a result of which the vehicle ended up in a ditch just missing a collision with a telephone pole.Chrysler llc., is continuing to investigate the cause of upper ball joint separations in the subject vehicles.ODI has upgraded the investigation to an engineering analysis (EA08-008) to continue to asses the scope, frequency and safety consequences of the alleged defect.

    NHTSA: For detailed information & supporting documents, see the official NHTSA page concerning investigation #PE07062 »

  6. FRONT SUSPENSION BALL JOINT SEPARATION NHTSA Engineering Analysis #EA06008

    Component(s): Suspension:Front:Control Arm:Lower Ball Joint

    Summary: On January 6, 2006, the Office Of Defects Investigation (ODI) opened a preliminary evaluation to investigate alleged front suspension lower ball joint separationin certain model year (MY) 2004 Jeep Liberty vehicles.ODI sent a letter to the manufacturer on February 7, 2006 requesting information about these and other Jeep Liberty vehicles.consequently, the investigation was upgraded to an engineering analysis on May 31, 2006 and the range of subject vehicles under investigation was expanded to include all MY 2002-2006 Jeep Liberty vehicles.ODI is aware of 566 non-duplicative complaints alleging involuntary front suspension lower ball joint separation in the subject vehicles.ODI is also aware of one non-injury crash and three alleged injury incidents (two crash incidents and one non-crash incident) related to the alleged defect resulting in minor injuries.the complaint counts reported above only include those MY 2002-03 Liberty vehicles where the alleged ball joint separation occurred after prior recall repairs were performed (see below) or if the vehicle was not included in the prior recall.the manufacturer conducted a prior safety recall (03V-460) to address the subject issue in certain MY 2002-03 Jeep Liberty vehicles.according to DaimlerChrysler's November 4, 2003, defect information report (submitted in accordance with 49 cfr part 573), ¿the constant tension lower control arm ball joints may experience a loss of lubrication which can lead to corrosion, accelerated wear and possibly separation from the steering knuckle.a constant tension ball joint which has separated from the knuckle may result in loss of vehicle directional control with minimal advanced warning.¿however, evidence indicates that some vehicles serviced under recall 03V-460 continued to experience involuntary ball joint separations.the manufacturer has made numerous changes in the design, material composition, manufacture, quality control, supply, and installation of the subject ball joints since the prior safety recall was initiated in an effort to improve performance with respect to sealing, lubrication, and joint retention capability.by letter dated August 1, 2006, DaimlerChrysler corporation has notified the Agency that it will conduct a safety recall to address potentially defective front suspension lower control arm ball joints in approximately 826,687 model year 2002-2006 Jeep Liberty vehicles manufactured between January 2, 2001 and March 15, 2006, includingall vehicles subject to the prior recall.the NHTSA campaign number assigned to this recall is 06V-288 (DaimlerChrysler recall campaign F23).DaimlerChrysler will replace both left and right front suspension lower control arm ball joints with improved components free of charge.accordingly, this investigation is closed.

    NHTSA: For detailed information & supporting documents, see the official NHTSA page concerning investigation #EA06008 »

  7. UPPER BALL JOINT SEPARATION NHTSA Engineering Analysis #EA08008

    Component(s): Suspension
    Suspension:Front:Control Arm:Upper Ball Joint

    Summary: On April 7, 2009, Chrysler llc submitted to ODI a defect information report indicating that it would recall approximately 42,469 model year 2002 through 2003 Jeep Liberty vehicles to remedy a defect that can result in upper ball joint separation while driving (09V-119).the affected vehicles were built from May 2002 through September 2002 and originally sold or currently registered in Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin.according to Chrysler, the front suspension upper control arm ball joint may experience a loss of lubrication which can lead to corrosion, accelerated wear, and possible separation while driving. Chrysler's recall procedure instructs dealers to replace the front upper control arm assemblies on all affected vehicles. Although the specific cause for the defect in the recalled production range has not been determined, ODI's analysis of upper ball joint separations by vehicle build date shows a clearly defined and significant "spike" in the rate of separation during the five month production range covered by 09V-119, which accounts for only 11 percent of subject vehicle production but approximately 70 percent of separation incidents.seventy-four (74) of the upper ball joint separation incidents identified by ODI occurred in vehicles produced in the recall months, resulting in a separation rate of 174 per 100,000 vehicles.the separation rate in the remaining subject vehicle population is significantly lower, at 9 incidents per 100,000 vehicles.at this time, the data do not show a defect trend in the subject vehicles built outside the recall range after approximately 6-8 years in service. This engineering analysis is closed.

    NHTSA: For detailed information & supporting documents, see the official NHTSA page concerning investigation #EA08008 »

  8. Rear Suspension Control Arm Failure NHTSA Preliminary Evaluation #PE11013

    • Status:
      CLOSED
    • Date Opened: April 18, 2011
    • Date Closed: September 15, 2011
    • Recall: no recall issued

    Component(s): Suspension:Rear

    Summary: During Preliminary Evaluation (PE11-013), the Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) conducted an analysis of consumer field data from its Vehicle Owner Questionnaire (VOQ) database and from complaint data submitted to ODI by Chrysler. ODI's analysis of VOQ data identified 13 complaints alleging failure of either the right or left rear lower control arm due to excessive corrosion.All of these complaints were associated with vehicles originally sold or registered in a "salt belt" state (for the purposes of this investigation, 'salt belt' includes Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia, Wisconsin and the District of Columbia).All of the complaints were associated with vehicles manufactured in model years (MY) 2004 or 2005. Three of these complaints also allege a loss of vehicle control due to the rear lower control arm failure. No complaints related to the alleged defect were identified on vehicles manufactured during MYs 2002 or 2003. Similarly an analysis of Chrysler complaint data identified 11 complaints (2 of which are duplicative of VOQs) alleging failure of a rear lower control arm due to excessive corrosion.All 11 of these complaints were from consumers operating vehicles in a "salt belt" state and vehicles manufactured in either MY 2004 or 2005. Three of these complaints (not duplicative of VOQs) also allege a loss of vehicle control due to the rear lower control arm failure.The original scope of PE11-013 included MY 2002 through 2005 Jeep Liberty vehicles as they were in the same generation.In response to an Information Request (IR) letter sent by ODI, Chrysler provided information and sample components identifying a substantial design change of the rear lower control arms after MY 2003 and beginning with MY 2004.Analysis of complaint data from both data sources (ODI and Chrysler) did not identify any applicable complaints (lower control arm failures due to excessive corrosion) from vehicles manufactured during MY 2002 or 2003.Similarly no complaints from either data source were found in states outside of those identified as "salt belt" states.Chrysler stated in its IR letter response that its investigation and analysis is ongoing to determine the scope, possible root causes of the unusual lower control arm corrosion, and define possible consequences to motor vehicle safety. Based on ODI's data analysis from both sources (ODI and Chrysler data), this investigation has been upgraded to an Engineering Analysis (EA11-013) focused on vehicles originally sold or registered in a "salt belt" state and produced during MY 2004 and 2005, to further assess the scope and potential safety consequences of the alleged defect.

    NHTSA: For detailed information & supporting documents, see the official NHTSA page concerning investigation #PE11013 »

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