The United States National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are probing the 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee sports utility vehicles after receiving three reports of fires in the headliner of the model near the passenger-side sun visor. The investigation covers around 146,000 vehicles. The probe, however, is not related to a long-running investigation on older Grand Cherokees that caught fire when hit from behind.
In each of the three complaints, the driver detected a burning smell and saw smoke coming from the headliner. When they lowered the windows to clear the smoke, the flames only grew larger. The three fires had to be extinguished since they kept burning even after the SUV was turned off.
In one instance, the fire shattered the sunroof, and in another, the burning visor fell onto the passenger seat, setting it on fire. Chrysler Group maintains that the Grand Cherokee remains one of the safest cars on the road.
A Chrysler spokesman wrote to Automotive News in an e-mail that “customer safety is paramount" at the carmaker. He said that Chrysler engineers are investigating the matter while also supporting the preliminary evaluation by NHTSA.
The US safety regulator usually commences this type of evaluation when consumer complaints or manufacturer service bulletins suggest that there may be a safety-related defect. Following completion of the evaluation, NHTSA either commences an engineering analysis or closes the inquiry. Depending on the results of the engineering analysis, NHTSA may either recommend a recall or close the inquiry.