US safety regulators expand inquiry on fires involving Jeep Wrangler

Article by Christian A., on April 14, 2012

Safety regulators in the United States are expanding their investigation, which was launched on March 28, into the fires related to the 2010 Jeep Wrangler SUV after getting another complaint of a blaze near or in the engine compartment. Specifically, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is requesting Chrysler Group to hand over any fire reports or customer complaints which involved Jeep Wranglers in the model years 2007-09 and 2011-12.

Nine reports of fires involving the 2010 Jeep Wrangler have already been received by NHTSA so far. The agency continues to focus its inquiry on the 2010 model.

The agency said in a letter sent to Chrysler that it wants the automaker to turn over any information involving the alleged defect for the additional model years. Chrysler is expected to respond by May 22. Chrysler said that it is "cooperating fully" with NHTSA, emphasizing that the matter is a preliminary investigation and not a recall.

The company further highlighted that NHTSA has not officially expanded the investigation to include the 2011-12 and 2007-09 Wranglers, but is just seeking additional information regarding those vehicles.

NHTSA's investigation commenced in March after receiving eight reports regarding an engine area blaze. The inquiry encompasses around 100,000 SUVs. There were no fatalities or injuries reported with the incidents. In one complaint, however, a driver reported that an unknown liquid was seen burning down to the ground from the engine area. The Wrangler was reported as a total loss.

With the ability to offer off-road capability that is clearly unparalleled, the Jeep Wrangler comes with the iconic four-wheel drive and 4x4 engineering experience spanning at least 70 years. The body-on-frame design is still there as well as the electronic lockers and the live axles. There is even the five-link suspension system for both the front and the rear.

For the new Jeep Wrangler, there is now a choice of two transmissions -- the manual six-speed version and the automatic five-speed gearbox. While it does have a new powertrain, the engineering team also made sure that both the sound quality and ride characteristics of the body-on-frame design would be optimized. The new motor, new transmission, and the modified calibration of the suspension, all help with the improvements that can be experienced whether cruising on the highway or driving off-road.

The sound quality of the interior was enhanced through the different refinements implemented. These include changes in the mounting system of the powertrain and even improvements on the firewall’s noise damping. There is also the first ever engine cover that ensures the cabin is isolated from the noises coming not only from the engine but from the road surfaces too.

From the outside, the noise of engine is scarcely noticeable even when the Jeep Wrangler is idle. This is because all of the accessories have been mounted directly to the 3.6-liter V6 engine.

Thus, there is no need for any brackets. Accessories therefore like the air conditioning compressor, alternator, and power steering pump, are all anchored securely, making all of them less vulnerable to any noise and vibration. Further, the shocks have been retuned and designed in a way to make sure that the balance between the off-road capability and the on-road handling is optimized.

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