Jeep's saga with the National Traffic Safety Administration and the voluntary campaign to repair 1.56 million vehicles for allegedly unsafe trailer hitches, is getting yet another chapter. The controversy appeared to finally be over in January when the automaker found a supplier for the replacement parts. Nothing is ever that easy, though, and the government regulator is now requesting documents from the company to clarify why the repairs are taking so long to begin.

Jeep parent company Chrysler has until July 16 to submit documents and answers to NHTSA explaining the situation. The regulator claims that despite its compromise to inspect and repair the models with improper hitches in June 2013, Chrysler didn't find a part supplier until December and didn't order the replacements until January. The government agency believes that the first components weren't manufactured until May of this year and vehicles may not actually be repaired until as late as August. According to the report, if the Chrysler doesn't supply what NHTSA is asking for, the agency could "take additional appropriate action as warranted."

Throughout this entire process, Chrysler has asserted that the vehicles met the applicable crash test standards of the time, and it has kept NHTSA abreast of the repair activity. In a recently released statement it said that the regulator analyzed eight rear impact reconstruction tests and found the replacement hitch to be safe. To keep up with the high demand for replacements, Chrysler is working with multiple suppliers, and they are running three shifts, six days a week to get the parts ready as soon as possible.

The argument between the Chrysler and NHTSA goes back to June 2013 when the automaker made the atypical decision to deny the recall request for the 2002-2007 Liberty and 1993-1998 Grand Cherokee. The regulator believed that the trailer hitch could puncture the fuel tank in a rear-end crash, which could lead to a fire. NHTSA originally requested about 2.7 million Jeeps be recalled, but eventually compromised down to a voluntary campaign for about 1.5 million vehicles. Scroll down to read Chrysler's official statement about the investigation.
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July 3, 2014 , Auburn Hills, Mich. - Chrysler Group welcomes the findings of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. According to the agency, after conducting and analyzing eight rear impact crash reconstruction tests, NHTSA informed Chrysler that "it did not have any reservations about implementation of Chrysler's proposed remedy." This reflects Chrysler Group's long-standing position -- supported in the public record by real-world data -- that the vehicles are not defective. They are among the safest in their peer groups and met or exceeded the standards in effect at the time they were first sold. We remain unwavering in our commitment to design, engineer and build vehicles that afford outstanding customer safety and security.

We note that this campaign has been conducted in close coordination with NHTSA. The agency has had full knowledge of our activities. Chrysler Group complied with all applicable regulations governing recalls, and has been working with NHTSA all along in this process.

Launching a safety recall demands complex engineering and close coordination with NHTSA well before an automaker accumulates replacement parts. To accommodate the high-volume production required for this campaign, Chrysler Group had to find and enlist multiple new supplier partners to supply volume of this part that far exceeded normal demand.

Parts production has commenced. Our supplier partners are committed to a work schedule of three shifts per day, six days per week, with occasional Sunday production. Chrysler Group has already contacted affected customers and advised them of our intentions. They will be contacted again when the time is appropriate to schedule service. The cost of this work will be borne by the Company.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 1 Year Ago
      I don't agree with how this was handled, but my wife's '04 Liberty is in need of a hitch and I'll gladly take a free one. I've been on "the list" since the agreement was made, and it's been crickets for a year.
      • 1 Year Ago
      Chrysler just coudn't tell NHTSA to pound sand because of media backfire no matter if it would have been justified. IMO it's ridiculous, those old Jeeps were just as safe as any other SUV with the tank behind the rear axle back in the day. Last week I had a look underneath an older Mercedes G-Wagen and the tank is in the same position as on my Grand Cherokee. Considering the G-Wagen is still relatively unchanged today, I wonder if they still have the tank in this position? Anyone been under a recent G lately? Chrysler is just delaying it because every day they can drag this along further, there are a couple of those ZJs etc. going to the junkyard, not needing a hitch install, and I can't blame them considering this BS recall...
      • 1 Year Ago
      It's taking long because it's not necessary in the least.
      That Guy
      • 1 Year Ago
      Thugs with an agenda. That's is what this agency (along with all the others) has become. Jeep should tell them to F off. What's next, recall every 50s car on the road because it doesn't meet today's standards? THIS folks, is why the government sucks. They can't do anything competently.
      • 1 Year Ago
      carguy1701, Tell everyone here about all those spare tires you see mounted under the gas tank on these.
      • 1 Year Ago
      What's next? Airbags for Corvairs?
      Robert Niknam
      • 1 Year Ago
      This agency is useless, absolutely useless. They do not do anything useful for the consumer. They are thugs with an agenda to fill their pockets.
      • 1 Year Ago
      They tried O'Reilley, Napa and even U-Haul. Nobody had 1.5 million hitches in stock. The quest continues...
      • 1 Year Ago
      Its taking so long as Jeep can't get all the illegal alien owners to show at the dealership.
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