Regulators Deny Request For Investigation Into 5 Million Fiat Chrysler Vehicles

Following a probe into 23 safety recalls and 11 million cars – which resulted in a record-setting $105 million fine – it appears that Fiat Chrysler is getting a little bit of good news from federal regulators. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has decided to not open an investigation into nearly five million other vehicles over power system failures.

The regulator denied a 2014 petition [PDF] from the Center for Auto Safety that called for an investigation into an electrical power control module used by the car maker in multiple vehicles produced since 2007.

According to NHTSA’s denial [PDF], regulators found “no valid evidence” to support the claims in the petition.

Last August, the advocacy group filed a request for the investigation, contending that defects in the Totally Integrated Power Module (TIPM) could result in engine stalls, airbag non-deployment, failure of fuel pump shutoff resulting in unintended acceleration, fire and other issues.

Vehicles covered by the petition included Ram pickup trucks, Chrysler and Dodge minivans, Jeep Grand Cherokee and Wrangler, as well as Dodge Durango and Journey SUVs.

In September 2014, NHTSA’s Office of Defects Investigation opened an evaluation into the petition. At that time, regulators began analyzing data provided by the Center for Auto Safety and complaints submitted to NHTSA from consumers.

In all, NHTSA says there were 296 complaints submitted by the advocacy group and 76 complaints in its own database. While investigators found no safety defect trends, they did find field analysis that indicated model year 2011 to 2013 Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge Durango vehicles had higher complaint rates for fuel pump relay failure.

Later that same month, Fiat Chrysler notified NHTSA that it would recall 188,723 model year 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge Durango vehicles. In February of this year, the company expanded the recall to cover an additional 338,216 model year 2012 to 2013 Jeep Grand Cherokee and model year 2012 Dodge Durango vehicles.

Despite the recall initiated by Fiat Chrysler, NHTSA’s investigation determined that the Center for Auto Safety’s allegations were not supported.

“No valid evidence was presented in support of claims related to airbag non-deployment, unintended acceleration or fire resulting from TIPM faults and these claims were found to be wholly without merit based on review of the field data and design of the relevant systems and components,” the notice states.

NHTSA says that any additional investigation into the matter is unlikely to result in a finding that a defect related to vehicle safety exists in the vehicles.

“Therefore, in view of the need to allocate and prioritize NHTSA’s limited resources to best accomplish the agency’s safety mission, the petition is denied,” the notice concludes.

Clarence Ditlow, executive director for the Center for Auto Safety, tells the Associated Press, that he considers the two recalls issued by Fiat Chrysler to be a victory.

He says that the Center would continue to monitor the issues to determine if other vehicles could be covered by the stalling recall.

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