Jeep finally recalls vehicles, but will it prevent fires?

For many people, safety is one of the key components of choosing a new vehicle. Consumers trust that auto manufacturers have designed and tested vehicles in such a way that any design flaws or safety issues have been addressed. However, the reality is that problems with product design can persist even after a car has been on the market for several years.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration had been investigating a serious auto defect on Jeep Grand Cherokee and Liberty models. Apparently, fuel tanks in the SUVs were positioned in such a way that they could start on fire due to fuel tank ruptures that occur during rear-end collisions.

Initially, the NHTSA wanted Jeep to recall the vehicles, but the manufacturer resisted in a very public fashion. In response to the federal agency’s efforts to recall the vehicles, Jeep asserted that the risk of explosion in their vehicles more not significantly greater than in similar vehicles and they tried to shed the label of producing a dangerous product.

Not long ago, Jeep finally decided to recall 1.56 million vehicles that could be affected by the fuel tank problem. The manufacturer’s solution to the issue is to install trailer hitches on vehicles in order to provide additional protection. Jeep owners can have the part installed if they haven’t done so already.

Even with the recall and the NHTSA’s decision to end their investigation, some safety concerns might still be present. One legal observer isn’t convinced that adding a trailer hitch to Jeep vehicles will actually reduce the risk of fuel tank fires in rear-end accidents. Knowing that this may not actually provide necessary protection to consumers, it may be important to keep a close eye on this product to see if there are any critical developments.

Source: The Associated Press, “NHTSA Ends Jeep Fuel Tank Probe,” Dee-Ann Durbin, Jan. 21, 2014

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