WASHINGTON, DC (WUSA) - Our consumer team has reported for over a year about the safety of certain late model Jeeps.
Chrysler has agreed to recall some of the 2.7 million SUVs where the plastic gas tanks are linked to crashes where people burned to death. But not all of them.
Only 1.56 million of the Jeep SUVs are actually part of the recall. They are the 1993 to 1998 Jeep Grand Cherokees. And, the 2002 to 2007 Jeep Liberty models.
Chrysler will install a trailer hitch assembly on these models. The company now says it will protect the gas tank.
But the 1.2 million 1999 to 2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee models will be part of a Customer Service Campaign.
So, Chrysler will inspect your SUV and if it has a non-factory installed hitch on it, the company will replace it. If your SUV doesn't have a hitch, it won't get one. Chrysler says the fuel systems in these models are different than the ones they agreed to recall.
As part of the recall, Chrysler did not agree that these vehicles were defective. The company maintains its vehicles are safe.
But, in a letter Chrysler sent to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration yesterday, the company raised some questions about its own fix.
Writing to NHTSA, "The trailer hitch cannot and will not mitigate the risk of the high energy rear collision identified in your recall."
It's something that concerns auto safety advocates who first brought this gas tank issue to the government.
Clarence Ditlow says, "It doesn't prevent the striking vehicle from going under and rupturing the fuel tank. In addition, it doesn't allow for support of the fuel tank itself and shielding. The filler hose can still pull loose. All the defects that were demonstrated in the crash test, ahh, are not corrected by this remedy."
So, Clarence Ditlow and the consumer non-profit Center for Auto Safety are urging Chrysler to recall all of the late model Jeep Grand Cherokees.
And, they want NHTSA to crash test the trailer hitch fixes as part of their continuing investigation.
Chrysler says that trailer hitch fix is only designed to protect the gas tank in low speed crashes.