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Gas Tank Recall Refusal a Slap in the Face to Consumer Safety

Wednesday, July 24, 2013By ALG
JeepChrysler’s initial refusal to recall Jeeps with dangerous fuel systems was in shocking disregard of customer safety and tells us a lot about the company.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration requested that Chrysler recall 2.7 million Jeeps that the agency found to have fuel tank design issues that could result in a gas tank fire in a rear-end crash.

Chrysler denied that the Grand Cherokees (1993 to 2004) and Jeep Liberty SUVs (2002 to 2007) had fuel tanks that were dangerous.

But it is hard to argue with NHTSA incident reports that showed that the Jeeps in question had a rate of fatal rear-end crashes resulting in fires that was double that of other SUVs - much safer SUVs that have the fuel tank positioned behind the rear axle where it is protected from rear-end crush in crashes.

Chrysler was quick to stand by its product and rebuked the NHTSA’s data, claiming that fire upon impact was rare and that the fuel tank was within safety guidelines.

Gas tank fires are rare and they should be because they are unbelievable catastrophes.

An immediate backlash from concerned customers caused Chrysler to rethink their stance. And properly so.

At freeway speeds a ruptured gas tank produces a vapor cloud with explosive potential. Gas tanks and fuel system failures cause intense fires that burn occupants to death and maim with horrific burn injuries and scars that last a life time. A gas tank failure in a stretched Lincoln Continental limousine on the San Mateo Bridge is a recent and tragic reminder of the need for the highest standards in fuel system crash safety.

Chrysler says it will now recall 1.6 million Jeeps. The manufacturer is following the NHTSA recommendations for the Liberty model but is leaving 1998 to 2004 Grand Cherokees to be checked under a customer service action rather than a recall. Chrysler will perform visual inspection and reinforcement of the rear end to better protect in low-speed impacts.

NHTSA recommendations are not to be taken lightly—by car manufacturers or consumers. A recall and subsequent repairs will be costly for a car manufacturer but the bottom line shouldn’t be the deciding factor when people’s lives and life-altering burns are in the balance.

More about this recall: http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/06/18/us-autos-chrysler-recall-idUSBRE95H1AB20130618

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