Jeep probe casts doubt on NHTSA data

Safety group says feds’ system misses many fiery crashes
Neil Roland
Automotive News | December 13, 2010 – 12:01 am EST

WASHINGTON — The federal safety investigation of 1993-2004 Jeep Grand Cherokees is flawed by gaps in data collection that may hamper all U.S. probes of deadly fire crashes, a consumer group says.

The Center for Auto Safety, whose research spurred the ongoing Jeep Grand Cherokee inquiry, says government fire-crash data on which many investigations are based often are incomplete and unreliable.

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Fuel tank probe rekindles old issue

The placement of fuel tanks on passenger vehicles has changed over the past three decades, and for good reason.

Automakers gradually have repositioned the tank to an area in front of the rear axle, generally below the rear passenger seat. Statistically speaking, the tank in that location is less vulnerable in a high-speed, rear-end crash than in the previous location — between the rear bumper and axle.

Fiery crashes of the Ford Pinto and Mercury Bobcat in the 1970s prompted automakers to rethink how to protect the gasoline tank.

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Grand Cherokee Is Investigated for Gas Tank Danger


The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said on Tuesday it would grant a consumer group’s request to investigate whether an estimated three million Jeep Grand Cherokees had gas tanks that were too vulnerable to fires after a rear impact.

The petition to investigate the 1993–2004 Jeeps was made last October by the Center for Auto Safety, which says the gas-tank design is defective.

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