Those vehicles were designed with their gas tanks between the rear axle and the bumper, and NHTSA says that in rear-end collisions, damage to the fuel tank has caused fires responsible for those 51 deaths. The compromise reached last summer was that Chrysler would inspect 1.56 million vehicles and, "if necessary, provide an upgrade to the rear structure of the vehicle." Practically speaking, that meant Chrysler would replace aftermarket trailer hitches, but would take no action if a vehicle had a factory-installed hitch or an aftermarket hitch from Mopar.
A report in The Detroit News says the "voluntary campaign" is just now getting under way, with Chrysler saying last week that the design of the replacement part had been finalized and it was tooling up "to deliver the required volume." Seven months later, still in question is whether NHTSA will crash-test the fix engineered by Chrysler, noteworthy because not only did the vehicles in question pass every safety standard necessary to be cleared for sale at the time, there are still questions (to those of us on the outside) as to how the Jeeps at issue fare among their peers in such incidents. Either way, Chrysler and NHTSA apparently still disagree on the efficacy of the remedy itself: the carmaker says it might help in low-speed crashes but not high-speed collisions, a position the NHTSA is at odds with. All of this means the campaign doesn't yet have an end in sight.