Motor Trend reports that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) may begin an investigation into a fuel tank defect in 1993 to 2004 Jeep Grand Cherokees. The Center for Auto Safety, a consumer advocacy group, says that more than 250 people have died in fires in accidents involving the defective fuel tank.
Clarence Ditlow, executive director of the Center for Auto Safety Clarence Ditlow signed a petition which reads, “The fuel tank of the Grand Cherokee is plastic and extends below the rear bumper so there is nothing to protect the tank from a direct hit in a rollover or by a vehicle with a low front profile or one lowered by pre-impact braking.”
NHTSA claims that only one death and nine injuries have been related to fuel fires in reported accidents. However, the Center for Auto Safety says that NHTSA files show that between 1992 and 1998 there were 172 Jeep Grand Cherokee crashes involving fires that caused 254 deaths.
The fuel tank is not properly shielded from impact, and the fuel filler neck can be ripped off during an accident and cause a fuel leak, according to the Center for Auto Safety.
Chrysler released a statement which read: “Chrysler group is confident that a study which considered all factors in all collisions – including rear collisions with fire – would show that the 1993 – 2004 Jeep Grand Cherokees perform as well as or better than other vehicles in their class. The 1993 – 2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee meets or exceeds all applicable federal safety standards and has an excellent safety record.”
Then why did the automaker relocate and shield the fuel tank in 2005? This fact strengthens the argument from the Center for Auto Safety. Since the tank was relocated and shielded, there has only been one crash involving a fatal fire, according to the Center for Auto Safety.
The Center for Auto Safety filed the petition for an investigation by the NHTSA in October. If NHTSA begins an investigation, it could affect approximately 3 million Jeep Grand Cherokees. The investigation, if opened, could take years before a ruling is issued on a potential recall.
I don’t understand why automakers don’t place more importance on protecting the fuel tank. After all, gasoline is an explosive substance. For years, GM trucks were manufactured with gas tanks on the side of the truck, outside of the frame rails with no protection. In some cars, including the Ford Crown Victoria, the fuel tank is located behind the rear axle. This can result in terrible fires in rear collision accidents.
If you or a loved one have been injured in a car wreck due to a potentially defective part or reckless behavior on the part of another driver, contact an experienced Atlanta auto wreck attorney as soon as possible. An attorney can advise your of your legal rights and help you get the compensation you deserve. Contact MLN Law at 404-531-9700 to schedule a free consultation.