NHTSA Defect Investigations for the 2004 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 2004 Jeep Liberty, both ongoing and closed, are listed below:

  1. 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 »

  2. 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 »

  3. FRONT SUSPENSION BALL JOINT SEPARATION NHTSA Preliminary Evaluation #PE06004

    • Status:
      CLOSED
    • Date Opened: January 06, 2006
    • Date Closed: May 31, 2006
    • Recall: no recall issued

    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 separation while driving in 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.ODI is aware of 93 non-duplicative complaints that allege involuntary front suspension lower ball joint separation in the subject vehicles.ODI is also aware of two alleged injury incidents related to the alleged defect (one crash incident and one non-crash incident), both resulting in minor injury.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 defect information report to the Agency (in accordance with 49 cfr part 573) dated November 4, 2003, ¿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.¿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.the manufacturer's investigation into alleged front suspension lower ball joint separation is ongoing.accordingly, this investigation has been upgraded to an engineering analysis (EA06-008) to further study the frequency and scope of the alleged defect and the adequacy of the remedy provided by the prior safety recall.

    NHTSA: For detailed information & supporting documents, see the official NHTSA page concerning investigation #PE06004 »

  4. Rear Suspension Control Arm Failure NHTSA Engineering Analysis #EA11013

    Component(s): Suspension
    Suspension:Rear

    Summary: In a letter dated March 2, 2012 Chrysler Group LLC (Chrysler) submitted a Defect Information Report (NHTSA recall No. 12V-085) to the NHTSA identifying a safety defect regarding rear suspension lower control arm corrosion in approximately 210,000 model year (MY) 2004 and 2005 Jeep Liberty vehicles, originally sold or currently registered in a Salt-belt state (Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia, Wisconsin and the District of Columbia).According to Chrysler, excessive corrosion could result in fracture of a rear suspension lower control arm which may result in a loss vehicle control.In analysis of both Vehicle Owner Questionnaire (VOQ) data submitted to the Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) and consumer complaint data submitted to Chrysler, ODI identified 54 non-duplicative reports alleging failure of one or both rear lower control arms due to excessive corrosion.Thirteen of these complaints allege that the failure resulted in some loss of vehicle control.For purposes of this analysis, loss of control events involve alleged complete or partial departure from the intended lane of travel.An additional 11 complaints reported difficulty maintaining control of the vehicle when the rear lower control arm failed.All of the complainant vehicles were either originally sold or registered at the time of the incident in a Salt-belt state.ODI did not identify any reports (complaints or warranty claims) related to rear lower control failure due to excessive corrosion in the approximately 138,000 MY 2004 and 2005 Liberty vehicles that are not included in this recall (i.e., not sold or currently registered in a Salt-belt state).In Chrysler-€™s Defect Information Report, Chrysler stated that during the investigation a field survey of MY 2004 and 2005 Jeep Liberty vehicles was conducted.In total, Chrysler is aware of 83 incidents alleging rear control arm fracture (including complaints and field study results).Based on Chrysler-€™s decision to conduct a safety recall this investigation is closed. The associated VOQs are: 10449912, 10448981, 10448406, 10448119, 10447069,10446737, 10445029, 10443863, 10443222, 10441248, 10438681, 10437308, 10436416, 10436231, 10436024, 10434927, 10434157, 10433963, 10430852, 10429346, 10428006, 10427087, 10426644, 10426393, 10419094, 10417697, 10416623, 10410148, 10409668, 10402048, 10397413, 10392160, 10388448, 10365118, 10360057, 10360049, 10345985

    NHTSA: For detailed information & supporting documents, see the official NHTSA page concerning investigation #EA11013 »

  5. 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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