Following the significant outcry surrounding the General Motors and Takata airbag safety crises this year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration seems to be taking a much more aggressive role in pushing owners to repair their recalled vehicles. In the agency's latest move, it's urging Jeep drivers to get their models fixed. Acting NHTSA administrator David Friedman even sent a letter to Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne pressing him to get more of the SUVs fixed.

The problem goes back to the recall of the 2002-2007 Liberty and 1993-1998 Grand Cherokee because of the possibility for the fuel tank to rupture in some rear crashes. The campaign affected over 1.5 million vehicles, but Chrysler initially refused NHTSA's request for a repair campaign. The automaker eventually came up with a fix that involved adding a trailer hitch to provide extra protection to the tank. The feds believe the danger "will be reduced by the remedy now offered by Chrysler," according to the statement.

However, this latest push comes out of NHTSA's concern that only three percent of the affected vehicles are repaired, although Chrysler maintains some 13.4 percent have actually been fixed. The agency is asking the automaker to reach out to owners "proactively," and get them to bring the Jeeps in dealers. According to the the feds' statement, the company "has nearly 400,000 parts available" to perform the fixes, and it's still producing more.

Friedman's letter to Marchionne goes even further, alleging NHTSA has received reports that dealers are turning customers away who request the recall. He asks the CEO to prove within 15 days that these claims are false. "Given the low rates of repair that Chrysler has reported more than a year after the recall, significantly more aggressive steps are required," says a portion of the note.

According to The Detroit News, Chrysler has subsequently promised to speed up the recall work, vowing that all dealers will have at least 12 repair kits in stock by Monday. Further, it has announced plans to ramp up its notification campaign with Facebook ads and public service announcements.

Scroll down to read NHTSA's full statement on the matter, and Friedman's letter to Marchionne can be read in PDF format, here.
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Consumer Advisory: NHTSA Urges Owners of Model Year 2002-2007 Jeep Liberty and 1993-1998 Jeep Grand Cherokee Vehicles to Get Recalled Cars Fixed

Thursday, November 20, 2014

WASHINGTON D.C - NHTSA urges owners of recalled Model Year 2002-2007 Jeep Liberty and Model Year 1993-1998 Jeep Grand Cherokee vehicles to contact their local dealer to arrange a service appointment to receive the free remedy repair for their vehicles. Chrysler reports it currently has nearly 400,000 parts available to repair vehicles covered by this recall and will continue to produce parts to ensure they are able to meet consumer demand for the repair. Owners who have concerns regarding their ability to receive parts should contact Chrysler customer service at 1-800-247-9753.

Chrysler's recall remedy addresses fuel tank ruptures and fires that can occur if the vehicle is struck from behind in a low to medium speed crash. NHTSA took the proactive step of testing the remedy and today the agency closed its safety defect investigation because it believes the risk of fuel tank ruptures and fires in lower to medium speed rear end crashes will be reduced by the remedy now offered by Chrysler. However, NHTSA will continue to monitor the remedy and Chrysler's efforts to notify vehicle owners and its effort to remedy vehicles.

Owners can confirm whether their individual vehicle is part of the recall by using NHTSA's free VIN look up tool on safercar.gov or by contacting Chrysler customer service at 1-800-247-9753.

NHTSA also issued a letter to Chrysler today expressing concerns with the manufacturer's current efforts to repair the recalled vehicles. In its most recent update, Chrysler reports that the company has remedied only approximately 3 percent of affected vehicles of a population of more than 1.5 million. The agency is pushing the manufacturer to accelerate efforts to repair the recalled vehicles by proactively reaching out to affected owners with accurate information on the safety defect and the availability of the free remedy repair. NHTSA is also asking for details on what Chrysler is doing to correct any inaccuracies or delays in dealer communications and actions regarding these issues.

Owners should make sure their vehicles are registered with up-to-date contact information to ensure they receive notices of safety defect recalls from manufacturers. Further, the agency strongly urges all consumers to utilize any of NHTSA's many alert tools to quickly learn about recalls on www.safercar.gov.


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