NHTSA Investigating Chrysler Recall Remedy After Reports That Sun Visors Continue To Catch Fire

When a consumer takes their recalled vehicle to a dealer for repairs, they probably assume they won’t have the same issue with the car in the future. But that apparently hasn’t been the case when it comes to several Jeep and Dodge SUVs recalled last summer, and now the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is probing the effectiveness of the recall remedy. 

According to a notice [PDF] posted by NHTSA, the agency opened an investigation into the efficacy of the remedy put in place after Fiat Chrysler recalled 895,000 model year 2011 to 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge Durango SUVs for fire concerns.

Last July, Fiat Chrysler agreed to recall the vehicles after an investigation [PDF] by NHTSA found that the wiring located inside the sun visor of the vehicles may be subject to short-circuit (which can result in a fire) if not appropriately reassembled by a dealer.

At the time of the recall [PDF], NHTSA said it was aware of 62 reports of fire incidents, and Chrysler was aware of three related injuries.

The manufacturer’s remedy for the issue consisted of a plastic guide way installed on each sun visor that routes wiring away from the attached screws preventing the wiring from being shorted.

But that’s not exactly happening, according to NHTSA.

The agency opened the recall query into the effectiveness of Fiat Chrysler’s safety fix after receiving eight incident reports from consumers that involved smoke, and in some cases flames, from the vehicle’s visor area after the SUVs had been repaired by a certified dealer.

“On October 15, 2014 I took my Jeep Grand Cherokee to (dealership) to address recall,” one complainant writes to NHTSA. “On February 4, 2015, while parked, with the engine running, locked and unoccupied, the car erupted in flames. The source of ignition was a short in the wiring above the headliner at the passenger side sun visor.”

“While driving at approximately 25 miles per hour, an abnormal odor emitted from the overhead of the vehicle on the driver side,” another complaint states. “The headliner above the driver’s left shoulder started to emit smoke and ignited into flames. The materials from the ceiling were dropping onto the driver seat and burned the seat.”

Despite consumers’ complaints of smoke and fire, NHTSA reports that none of the incidents occurring after the recall fix resulted in crashes or injuries.

The recall query will determine the effectiveness of Fiat Chrysler’s recall remedy and decide if further action is needed.

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