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NHTSA Investigating Jeep Wrangler, Chevy Cruze Fires

Owners received no advance warning of trouble.

by on Apr.02, 2012

The Chevrolet Cruze is linked to a series of unexplained fires that occurred without warning.

Federal regulators have launched separate investigations into reports of fires affecting two separate Detroit product lines: the Chevrolet Cruze sedan and the Jeep Wrangler sport-utility vehicle.

The government’s concerns about the reports were apparently serious enough for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to take the unusual step of announcing the two investigations on Sunday.

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General Motors says it has received 19 warranty claims involving Cruze fires.  NHTSA, in turn, has been notified of at least two fires that occurred while the compact sedan was being driven.  Both vehicles were destroyed.

At least seven of eight fires reportedly involving the 2010 Jeep Wrangler, meanwhile, occurred while the vehicle was being driven.  Owners report that various vehicle systems failed immediately before they began seeing smoke and flames.

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GM Contends Fire Problem Even More Common with Gasoline.

Maker aiming to downplay problem with Chevy Volt batteries.

by on Dec.13, 2011

GM struggles to head off a PR problem with the Volt.

Embarrassed by reports that the batteries in several of its Chevrolet Volts caught fire after crash tests, General Motors is fighting back by pointing out that there are more than 215,000 car fires annually in the U.S. involving vehicles fueled by gasoline.

GM is facing an increasingly serious nightmare in the wake of the fires at National Highway Traffic Safety Administration test facilities.  While there have been no reports of fires involving Chevy Volt plug-in hybrids owned by the public there are clear signs of concern among potential buyers and several Volt dozen owners have reportedly taken GM up on its offer to buy the vehicles back.

Meanwhile, Congress plans to investigate the issue, House Republicans questioning whether GM and the Obama administration are covering up more serious problems with the Volt.

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But GM is fighting back, pointing out that cars fueled with gasoline are also routinely involved in fires.  And the automaker has pointed out that after crash testing NHTSA routinely empties vehicle gas tanks.  It did so on the Volt but failed to also discharge the plug-in’s batteries as required by the maker’s post-crash protocol.

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Feds Investigating Fire Risk With Millions Of Jeeps

As many as 3 million SUVs could be targeted.

by on Aug.25, 2010

NHTSA begins an investigation into potential fire risks with the 1992 - 2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee.

A preliminary investigation has been opened by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration into reports that the plastic fuel tanks on as many as 3 million Jeep Grand Cherokee SUVs could be prone to rupture during a rear-end collision, creating a potential fire risk.

The investigation does not ensure a recall will follow, but if NHTSA does order a fix, it would be one of the year’s largest, dwarfed only by the pair of recalls by Toyota to repair problems that can cause sudden acceleration problems.

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The Jeep investigation was triggered by a complaint by the consumer advocacy group, the Center for Auto Safety, (CAS) which argues that the placement of the fuel tank in 1993 through 2004 Grand Cherokees, behind the rear axle and below the back bumper, means it is vulnerable to damage in a rear-end collision.  Should it leak, a ruptured or damaged tank would create a fire hazard following a collision.

The potential problem does not involve the brand-new 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee, nor the outgoing model, launched in 2005.  CAS data indicate the older Jeeps have a fatal fire rate six times higher than that of the more recent Grand Cherokee – and about four times higher than competing sport-utility vehicles.

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