* Potential engine fires in 106,800 Grand Cherokees
* NHTSA also explores rear differential failures in Dodge
* 230,000 Ram pickups under investigation
July 23 U.S. safety regulators have opened
defect investigations into Chrysler Group LLC's 2012 Jeep Grand
Cherokee and 2009-2010 Dodge Ram 1500 -- the automaker's two
best-selling vehicles in the United States.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said it
is investigating potential power steering hose failures that
could lead to under-hood fires in about 106,800 2012 Grand
NHTSA also is investigating potential rear differential
failures that could lead to rear wheel lock-up and loss of
vehicle control in about 230,000 2009-2010 Dodge Ram 1500
An NHTSA defect investigation is often a prelude to a
vehicle safety recall.
Chrysler spokesman Eric Mayne said, "Chrysler Group takes
seriously all customer complaints and is cooperating fully with
NHTSA." Mayne said owners of the affected vehicles who have
concerns can contact dealers directly.
Chrysler is majority-owned by Italy's Fiat SpA.
The Grand Cherokee was the first Chrysler model to be redesigned
and released under Fiat's management after the U.S. automaker's
NHTSA's Office of Defect Investigation said the power
steering hose on the 2012 Grand Cherokee could fail, resulting
in power steering fluid leakage in the engine compartment. It
said the fluid "may be ignited by hot surfaces in the engine
NHTSA said it has received one complaint of a power steering
return hose failure in a 2012 Grand Cherokee and has identified
additional incidents of power steering hose failure in field
reports submitted by Chrysler.
The office also said it has received two reports of alleged
engine compartment fires in the past month, including one that
reported "fluid dripping beneath the vehicle during the
incident." NHTSA said the reports "allege severe fires resulting
in total vehicle loss with the cause as yet undetermined."
In the Dodge Ram investigation, NHTSA said it had received
12 complaints of alleged rear differential failures resulting in
rear wheel lock-up, including "one resulting in a crash into a
NHTSA said one of the Dodge Ram complaints alleged drive
shaft failure in which "the detached shaft end punctured the