NHTSA May Reopen Jeep Fuel Tank Fire Investigation

Apr 10, 2015 01:08 PM EDT | Matt Mercuro

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is "considering" reopening an investigation into millions of Jeeps that could rupture and cause fires in rear-end crashes.

NHTSA head Mark Rosekind said Fiat Chrysler Automobiles needs to do more to repair 2.7 million older Jeep SUVs linked to "dozens" of gas tank fires and the agency is busy trying to determine what else can be done.  

"We're not satisfied with the current situation, so we are looking for every avenue that would be appropriate for us to take action" said agency administrator Mark Rosekind at the New York Auto Show, according to The Detroit News.  "Given all of the stuff that's going on, we want to figure out what else we can be doing."

Rosekind's remarks come just a week after we reported that Chrysler was found responsible for the death of a four-year-old who was burned alive when a Jeep Grand Cherokee he was riding in exploded into flames after being rear-ended. A Georgie jury awarded $150 million to the boy's family and determined Chrysler was 99 percent at fault for the crash.

Now there's a solid chance the agency could reopen its investigation into the older Jeeps, which was initially launched back in 2010 before NHTSA officially closed it last year.

"We're going to be looking for every tool available for us to figure out if there something else we could be doing," Rosekind said.

In 2013, Fiat Chrysler recalled 1.56 million Jeep Grand Cherokees and Libertys to install trailer hitches in hopes they would protect gas tanks mounted behind the rear axle.

Rosekind is not pleased with the pace of the repairs so far, but he's willing to wait until Chrysler's first-quarter progress report is released before taking further action, according to The Detroit News.

As of December 2014, just 3 percent of the Jeeps had been repaired, and owners from all over have sent in complaints to NHTSA that their local dealer didn't have the necessary parts for their Jeeps.

At least 75 deaths have been linked to the issue.

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