Even though certain models of Jeeps were recalled 18 months ago for defective gas tanks, drivers are still being killed in accidents involving the defective vehicles, many of which have not been repaired. The recalled vehicles are 2002-2007 Jeep Libertys and 1993-2004 Jeep Grand Cherokees.
Those vehicles were recalled in June 2013 after it was discovered that some Jeeps can easily burst into flames when they are hit from behind. The gas tanks in those vehicles are located behind the rear axle, only inches from the bumper. Federal investigators determined that the rear-mounted gas tanks can be easily punctured. Initially, Chrysler, formerly owner of Jeep vehicles, denied that there was any safety problem and declined to issue a recall. Ultimately however, Chrysler agreed to recall the vehicles to install a trailer hitch to help reduce the chances of a fire during a rear-impact crash. In doing so, the company said that the vehicles met standards in place at the time they were manufactured and that the fires only occur in the most severe of crashes. Although the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration requested a recall of 2.7 million vehicles, Chrysler only recalled 1.5 million vehicles.
The defective Jeeps have caused a total of at least 62 deaths. Six of those deaths occurred after the recall was issued, in unrepaired vehicles. According to Chrysler, only three percent of the 1.56 million vehicles have been repaired. That is the lowest rate of any recall of more than one million vehicles in the past five years. Chrysler says that it has inspected and/or serviced every vehicle that customers delivered to their dealers.
The problem, according to Chrysler, is that it is a challenge to find drivers of vehicles that are between seven and 20 years old. In many cases, the vehicles have been sold to second, third, or even fourth owners. Chrysler is currently shooting a video which will explain the recall and repair process, and encourage Jeep owners to get the vehicles fixed. The video will be used on recall-specific websites, although it’s doubtful that this effort alone will be enough to reach many Jeep owners.
A few months ago, the National Highway Traffic Administration issued Chrysler a “special order,” which expressed concern about the pace of the recall, and said that at the current pace, it would take Chrysler two to five more years to finish the recall. At that time, Chrysler said it did not have all the parts it needed and had to seek out new suppliers for those parts, as well as to design parts for the dealerships to use to make the repairs. Currently, it appears that Chrysler has all of the needed parts, but is having trouble locating the Jeep owners.
It’s extremely tragic that six people have died after the defective vehicles were recalled. Because of the slow response from both Chrysler and the owners of the vehicles in getting them repaired, it’s likely that more deaths will result from the defect. It’s also unfortunate that Chrysler initially refused to do a recall and instead claimed its vehicles were safe, when clearly there were problems with the gas tanks.
Many automakers are concerned much more about their bottom line than about keeping customers safe in their vehicles. They may refuse to do recalls and deny liability for vehicle defects in the hopes that they will not be forced to do a massive recall that will cost the company tens or hundreds of millions of dollars.
At Liberty Law, Micha Star Liberty believes that any company that manufactures a defective product should be held liable for any damages that result from the defects. This may include compensation for pain and suffering, medical expenses, time off work, and more. Call Micha Star Liberty, San Francisco Dangerous Products attorney, at 510-645-1000 or 415-896-1000 for a free consultation on your case. She will help you and your family obtain compensation for your injuries.