So often, when I write about anything that smacks of heavy-handed regulatory muscle, you Texas sportsmen remind me that the less government involvement in vehicle matters the better. With that in mind, I think we all need a round of applause for Chrysler, who this week told the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) that they would not honor their request for a recall for 1993 – 2004 Jeep Grand Cherokees and Jeep Liberty’s from 2002 – 2007 (almost 2.7-million vehicles).
It seems as though NITSA has been stretching its influence further and further on recall matters, and I believe that — given all the information available thus far — Chrysler, and its Jeep brand are well within their purview in saying that this recall is overreach.
The dialog began in September of 2010 when Chrysler began to share data with NHTSA for a study to determine whether rear impacts in a fire or resulting from a fire in the mentioned models occurred more frequently than with other vehicles and models. Chrysler’s findings, first released in June, 2012, were that there was no more frequency with these vehicles than with peer vehicles. At that time, Chrysler’s statement indicated that “…this is still an investigation, not a recall”.
Now, about one year later, what was once an investigation is now a recall from the NHTSA. Chrysler’s responsive has been to issue the first show over the administration’s bow.
To quote the source, Sergio Marchionne, Chairman and CEO of Chrysler Group LLC, “The company does not agree with NHTSA’s conclusions and does not intend to recall the vehicles…safe and not defective…NHTSA’s initial conclusions are based on an incomplete analysis of the underlying data …The safety of drivers and passengers has long been the first priority for Chrysler brands and that commitment remains steadfast.”
The company’s poisition on the matter is pretty clear. These vehicle met and exceeded the applicable requirements of the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, including FMVSS 301, pertaining to fuel-system integrity. (The disagreement is over the placement of a fuel line.) They state that the conditions involved in the NHTSA request occur less than oncve for every million years of vehicle operation, comparable to other vehicles produced and sold during the same time period.
So, what’s the verdict: Has the Federal government gone too far with recalls like this? Is this the beginning of a vehicle manufacturers’ rebellion against recalls that have gotten larger and more far reaching in terms of vehicle that, in some cases, more than 10 years old? Or, is this an area where your tax dollars are being well spent, and, if so, how far back should recalls be allowed to go?
Your thoughts, please.