The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has announced a new investigation into issues facing the Jeep Grand Cherokee SUV and Dodge Ram 1500 truck.
The investigation covers more than 3350,000 vehicles (106,803 Cherokees and about 230,000 Ran 1500s) from the 2009 and 2010 model years, and potential dangers that could find drivers either on fire, or fighting to control a vehicle with its rear wheels locked up.
The fire dangers come from the Jeep Grand Cherokee, which has had two reported incidents since May, and a third complaint about the loss of power steering fluid. One of the owners of the deep fried Cherokees said that he saw power steering fluid that had leaked out onto his driveway prior to the vehicle catching fire.
When combined with the two corroborating cases, the NHTSA suspects that there might be a leak issue with the vehicle’s power steering fluid, which can catch fire if exposed to hot components of the engine.
The issue facing the Dodge Ram pickup truck seems to be a failure of the rear differential, causing a total rear wheel lock-up. To date, there have been 12 instances reported that included a loosening of the rear differential pinion nut.
In the majority of those dozen cases, it was alleged that the loosened nut resulted in the drive shaft locking up. In one report, it was claimed that the driveshaft detached and punctured the fuel tank.
The NHTSA will conduct a series of tests on these two vehicles to determine if there is some common flaw that may also affect many other vehicles, putting thousands of owners in danger.
If a regular problem is found, Jeep and Dodge will be forced to develop a remedy for the situation, and issue a recall for the affected vehicles.
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