Fiat Chrysler recalls 600,000 SUVs for potential fire problems

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles yesterday recalled nearly 600,000 SUVs to check for and, possibly fix, problems with vanity mirror wiring and a low-pressure hose return clamp.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) has recalled nearly 600,000 sports utility vehicles (SUVs) for fire risks. The recalls were for problems with vanity mirror wiring and an issue with a low-pressure hose. According to Automotive News, the recalls have come at a time when the automaker is facing increased scrutiny by safety regulators. The automaker has been slammed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) twice this year. In July, following hearings, the automaker was fined for the pace of its response to recalls. And, this month, FCA was fined for a significant lapse in its reporting program.

Yesterday’s recalls involve:

  • 477,000, 2011-12 Jeep Grand Cherokees and Dodge Durangos
  • 93,000 Jeep Compass and Patriot vehicles

The Grand Cherokee/Durango recall involves checking work that may not have been completed correctly in an earlier recall. Yesterday’s recall announcement said that if the recall steps were “not followed precisely” then the vehicles could be “susceptible to a short-circuit, creating a potential fire hazard.” NHTSA opened the investigation that led to yesterday’s recall in May. Dealers will repair the problem by using new adhesive to secure the wiring in the roof lining.

The Compass/Patriot recall is for a clamp in a low-pressure return hose. The clamps may have been installed out of position. If a clamp fails, there could be a rapid loss of power steering fluid. In turn, the result may be a fire. And, of course, the vehicle will be hard to steer. Dealers will inspect and, if necessary, replace the clamp.

FCA said that it had not received any reports of death or injury related to either recall.

This year has been tough for FCA. The automaker has been fined twice for its recall-related programs. In July, the automaker agreed to a $105 million settlement for punting nearly two dozen safety recall campaigns, covering 11 million vehicles. The automaker agreed to a $70 million fine with the remaining $35 million deferred. If the automaker fails to live up to the agreement, it will have to pay the rest. The consent decree also named former Secretary of Transportation Rodney Slater to monitor FCA’s recall program for three years. Earlier this month FCA was fined another $70 million for a 12-year lapse in reporting crash-related injuries and deaths. The failure stemmed from problems in FCA’s system for monitoring and reporting data. NHTSA didn’t believe it was intentional. Instead, regulators believe FCA’s problems arose from “improper coding and failure to account for changes in brand names.”

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