UPDATE 1-Chrysler expands ignition switch recall by 696,000 vehicles

Mon Jun 30, 2014 7:49pm EDT

(Adds NHTSA interest in Jeep models, two crashes related to expanded recall, background)

DETROIT, June 30 (Reuters) - U.S. safety regulators announced an expansion on Monday of a previous recall to include more model years of Fiat Chrysler vehicles that have ignition switches that can be inadvertently shut off.

Added to a previous recall were model year 2008-2009 Dodge Grand Caravan and Chrysler Town & Country minivans, and 2009 Dodge Journey crossover vehicles. The previous recall affected the same three models from the 2010 model year.

Chrysler said in a statement that the expanded recall is being done "out of an abundance of caution" and includes an additional 695,957 vehicles, in addition to the previous recall of 196,000 vehicles, in North America.

Officials with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration also want more information from Chrysler about the inadvertent cutting off of engines and air bags because of potentially faulty ignition switches on 2006-2007 Jeep Commander and 2005-2006 Jeep Grand Cherokee SUVs. The NHTSA is also investigating the Jeep models.

General Motors Co announced the recall on Monday of 8.23 million mostly older models, including the Chevrolet Impala, because of ignition switch defects. Three deaths are linked to the latest GM recall.

So far this year, GM has recalled about 29 million vehicles worldwide, about half of them for ignition switch issues.

As for the Journey and minivans recall, the NHTSA said it wants more information from Chrysler on why a remedy for potentially defective ignition switches might not solve the issue of air bags not deploying in a crash.

Chrysler said it proposed a remedy that would make it more difficult to inadvertently bump the ignition from the "run" to "accessory" position while driving, which turns off the engine and the air bags.

Chrysler said it is aware of two accidents and no injuries in the affected Journey, Grand Caravan and Town & Country models. (Reporting by Bernie Woodall; Editing by Chris Reese and Andre Grenon)

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