On November 19, 2014, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (the “NHTSA”), issued a letter to Chrysler Group LLC urging Chrysler to more aggressively seek out owners affected by the recall of the Jeep Liberty and Jeep Grand Cherokee vehicles. According to the NHTSA letter, the Jeep recall concerns vehicles whose fuel tanks may rupture if the vehicles are struck from behind. The concern is that the fuel tanks may rupture and catch on fire even if they are involved in low or medium speed collisions.
According to the NHTSA letter, over 1.5 million Chrysler Jeep vehicles are affected by the recall. Based on an October 2014 recall update, Chrysler and its dealerships have a “woeful three percent repair rate out of more than 1.5 million affected vehicles.” In its letter, the NHTSA reminds Chrysler that it “has urged Chrysler on multiple occasions to ramp up production to ensure the company can meet consumer demand for these repairs.”
Jeep owners affected by the recall have submitted complaints to the NHTSA alleging that Chrysler dealerships are turning away Jeep owners due to a purported lack of parts to make the necessary repairs. Owners also allege they were told that their vehicles were safe to drive without the vehicles being repaired. According to the NHTSA, “[i]f these reports are at all accurate, the [Jeep] dealerships’ conduct is unacceptable.”
The NHTSA instructed Chrysler to reexamine and accelerate efforts to repair the recalled vehicles. Chrysler was also instructed to insure there are no barriers to dealers obtaining the parts necessary to make repairs. Specifically, Chrysler was told that it must correct “the reported practice” that dealers are telling customers that no parts are available for the repairs when Chrysler has informed the NHTSA that parts are in fact available to facilitate the recall.