* Ford, Chrysler recalled vehicles in question this year
* NHTSA closes Ford minivan probe opened in late 2011
* Chrysler defect confined to smaller group of SUVs
By Deepa Seetharaman
DETROIT, May 8 U.S. auto safety regulators
closed two separate probes into vehicles made by Ford Motor Co
and Chrysler Group LLC after the two U.S. automakers
conducted safety recalls this year to fix glitches in some
The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
closed both investigations in early May, according to documents
filed on the agency's website late on Tuesday.
In late 2011, NHTSA began exploring reports of corrosion
problems in 200,000 Ford Freestar and Mercury Monterey minivans
made for the 2004 through 2007 model years.
In March, Ford recalled 230,000 minivans worldwide to repair
the problem that could prevent the fold-down, third-row seats
from locking in place. Ford's recall affected 33,500 minivans
outside the United States.
The second-largest U.S. automaker's recall in the United
States was confined to vehicles sold or registered in the 20
states and the District of Columbia, where road salt is used.
NHTSA said about 100,000 minivans outside these so-called
"salt belt" states were not included in the recall because they
experience "significantly lower failure rates." But regulators
added that they will monitor complaints of rust in those models.
In a separate filing, NHTSA said it also closed its probe of
115,000 Jeep Patriot SUVs made for the 2011 and 2012 model years
after receiving complaints that the engines would stall while
running at high speeds. The safety agency opened a preliminary
evaluation into the issue in October 2012.
Chrysler found that the stalling engine issue was confined
to a smaller group of vehicles equipped with a saddle type fuel
tank made with malformed transfer tubes. The glitch was found in
models built between October 2011 and May 2012.
Chrysler recalled about 30,000 model year 2012 Jeep Patriot
and Compass SUVs globally for the issue in April.
Both Ford and Chrysler said there were no accidents or
injuries related to the problems. Chrysler is a unit of Italian