Jeep Grand Cherokees from model years 1993 to 2004, are being investigated for potential gas tank defects that could increase the likelihood of a fire in the event of a rear-end collision. The total number of vehicles with such a tank is over 3 million. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is working to determine whether a recall is necessary.
Investigations were motivated as early as October of last year, when the Center for Auto Safety argued that the placement of the Grand Cherokee’s plastic gas tank behind the rear axle and below the rear bumper "allowed for the possibility of tank ruptures, fuel spills and tank detachment during rear-end collisions and roll-overs."
In its initial evaluation by the NHTSA, the Grand Cherokee did not have a significantly higher number of post-collision fires than other vehicles.
The NHTSA has said the mere happening of a post-crash fires does not, by itself, establish a defect trend; "[f]urther review and investigation into these incidents is needed to determine the existence of any relationship between the alleged defect and each fire or leak."
The results of the investigation will determine whether or not the vehicles are recalled.