Federal safety regulators have expanded to 5 million Jeeps their probe of gas tank fire risk in rear crashes.
Chrysler Group continues to say it has no evidence of increased fire risk or a defect in the vehicles.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said that it has upgraded its “preliminary” probe of 3.04 million 1993 to 2004 Jeep Grand Cherokees into a more serious full-scale engineering analysis. It also added the 1993 to 2001 Jeep Cherokee and the 2002 to 2007 Jeep Liberty, bringing the total to about 5.1 million Jeeps.
So far, none of the vehicles are being recalled over the issue. Such NHTSA investigations may or may not lead to recalls and aim to discover if there is a safety defect that creates increased risk of crashes or injuries.
The Jeep probe began in September 2010 as a result of a petition from advocacy group Center for Auto Safety, which alleged the location of the gas tanks, behind the rear axle and below the bumper, makes them excessively prone to fires in crashes. In the 2005 and newer-model Grand Cherokees and the 2008 and newer Liberties, the fuel tank is located differently. The lower-level Cherokee model was discontinued.