Recall: 919,545 Jeep Liberty, Grand Cherokee SUVs for faulty airbags
2002-2003 Liberty and 2002-2004 Grand Cherokee models are affected.
Chrysler is recalling 744,822 Jeep Liberty and Grand Cherokee SUVs in the U.S. for airbags and seatbelt pre-tensioners that can inadvertently deploy or activate, according to filings posted Friday with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Chrysler also recalled the SUVs in Canada (49,430), Mexico (21,828), and in other markets including Europe (103,465), the company said. In total, 919,545 vehicles are affected.
Circuits within the airbag control module can fail due to "electrical overstress" and cause the front or side curtain airbags to deploy without warning on 2002-2003 Liberty models and 2002-2004 Grand Cherokee models. NHTSA had been investigating the Liberty models since October 2011 and has received 126 cases of inadvertent airbag deployment, resulting in 59 "minor injuries."
In January, NHTSA included the Grand Cherokee in the investigation after receiving 89 reports of inadvertent deployment, resulting in 22 minor injuries. In October, a Chrysler supplier told the company that a different metal had been used in certain capacitors within the airbag system, from which Chrysler concluded that electrical faults had triggered the airbags.
Chrysler dealers will install a new jumper harness that will fix the problematic components, Chrysler said. However, the parts will not be available until January. Chrysler did not say if owners should stop driving the vehicles. If you see an airbag light on the instrument panel or hear a warning chime, we'd recommend you do. NHTSA reports indicate that the inadvertent deployments occurred shortly after the light or chimes were activated.
Between March and June, the Liberty was recalled for suspension fractures on 2004-2007 models, a total of nearly 347,000 vehicles.
This latest Liberty recall is the seventh and largest airbag recall this year. Other manufacturers including Scion, Mercedes-Benz, Ford, Dodge, Hyundai and Chevrolet have issued recalls relating to inadvertent deployment, deflation problems or issues with sensors.
After an MSN Autos investigation in August found at least 19 cases of inadvertent airbag deployment in Cadillac and other GM vehicles, neither NHTSA nor GM has taken further action to investigate. However, NHTSA is investigating the 2012 Hyundai Elantra for side curtain airbags that deploy improperly, based on a single complaint.
Note: This story was updated to include models recalled outside of the United States.
Chrysler Settles Case of Fatal Rear-impact Crash of 2005 Jeep Liberty. Vulnerable fuel tank position subject to rupture in rear collision
NEW ORLEANS, LA.-Newlywed Jaye Donahoe was driving to her job as a third grade teacher at St. Rosalie School in St. John Parish, Louisiana, traveling eastbound on I-10 when traffic delays forced her to come to a complete stop. Kirk Thibodaux was driving behind Jaye, but due to the rising sun was blinded by the sunlight, so he did not see the traffic stopped in front of him and as a result, the Ford F-150 he was driving rear-ended Jaye's Jeep Liberty. Eyewitnesses at the scene reported that the Jeep exploded on impact and became engulfed with flames, and Jaye burned to death.
Unlike most vehicles, the fuel tank on the 2005 Jeep Liberty is located behind the rear axle and is not equipped with a shield, thus making it susceptible to being torn away, pulled off, punctured or damaged in the event of an accident. If it were not for the fire, Jaye would have walked away from the crash.
"The Parties have entered into a settlement and the family is now able to close this chapter on this sad and long nightmare. Jaye can never be replaced but hopefully the family can move on. This case is so sad as this tragedy should never had occurred. Chrysler violated its own design criteria by failing to locate the fuel tank forward of the rear axle as it does in other model vehicles," said attorney Ted Leopold, managing partner of the consumer justice law firm Leopold~Kuvin in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, who represented Jaye's husband Patrick Donahoe. "It's just common sense that the fuel tank should be placed out of the zone of danger that occurs in known impact areas", he continued.
"Jaye's death was not only devastating, but was by its nature horrific," Leopold stated. "It is our sincere hope that car manufacturers will learn from this tragedy and design their vehicles with consumer safety in mind so that future tragedies can be averted," he concluded.
Theodore J. Leopold is managing partner in the law firm of Leopold~Kuvin, P.A. The firm is headquartered in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, with offices located at 2925 PGA Blvd. Mr. Leopold can be contacted at (561) 684-6500 . Additional information about Leopold~Kuvin, P.A. may be obtained from the firm's website at
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