MY2015 Cherokee fire prompts NHTSA to launch probe

Article by Andrew Christian, on January 19, 2015

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has launched a probe into a possible defect into 50,415 MY2015 Jeep Cherokees after one unit burst into flames two days after purchase. According to a complaint posted on NHTSA’s Web site, the vehicle owner purchased the Cherokee on January 2. Two days after on Jan. 4, the owners noticed an oily smell while driving.

The driver then parked the Cherokee and then white smoke seeped from the hood. Within seconds the entire car was engulfed in fire, with “flames 20 feet high.” According to the complaint, a 50-yard trail of burning oil or fuel ran down the street following the fire.

NHTSA probers are now trying to find out the cause of the incident and the frequency and scope of the potential issue. The agency’s Office of Defect Investigations has also received early-warning report data related to the alleged issue, according to investigation’s opening document posted on its Web site.

Chrysler spokesman Eric Mayne said in an e-mail to Automotive News that the carmaker is aware of this incident and its own investigators are cooperating fully with NHTSA's Preliminary Evaluation.

NHTSA also received another complaint in which an owner noticed white smoke under the hood of a MY2015 Cherokee, which only has 45 miles on the barometer.

No injuries or death resulted from the two incidents. So far, there have been no reports of fires involving MY2014 Cherokees. A “preliminary evaluation” is launched in case of customer complaints or service bulletins suggesting the possibility of a safety-related issue.

Depending on the results of the evaluation, NHTSA will either commence an engineering analysis that may lead to a recall or close the inquiry.

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