DETROIT Jan 14 Federal safety regulators have
upgraded an investigation of sun visor-related fires in
recent-model Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge Durango SUVs.
The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said
Tuesday it had opened an engineering analysis into nearly
600,000 Grand Cherokees and Durangos, from model years 2011
through 2013, because a potential short circuit could cause a
fire near the sun visors of those vehicles.
An engineering analysis is the final step before NHTSA
determines if the vehicles should be recalled.
NHTSA's Office of Defects Investigation said it had reports
of five fires in those vehicles, and the manufacturer had
reported 40 incidents, resulting in three alleged injuries.
Chrysler Group, a unit of Italy's Fiat SpA, said in
a statement Tuesday its engineers continued to investigate the
issue while "fully supporting" the NHTSA probe.
The reported incidents range from minor overheating to an
open flame, the NHTSA said.
In some reports, "the fire spread to the front seats and/or
door panels of the vehicle," the agency said. In another, the
sunroof was damaged and the glass shattered.
The fires appeared to be caused by an electrical short in
the sun visors' lighted vanity mirrors, the NHTSA said.