Causes of Jeep Fires

What are the causes of Jeep fires? You may be asking that question after suffering an injury in a Jeep fire accident, which can happen when some Jeep models are hit in a rear-end crash.

Defective Design

In such a case, the cause of your Jeep’s fire may be the defective design and manufacture of the vehicle by Chrysler Corporation, a once respected brand now in its 90th year. Inexplicably, Chrysler patterned some Jeep Liberty and Jeep Grand Cherokee models after the disgraced Ford Pinto of the 1970s, in terms of placing a plastic fuel tank behind the rear axle and below the SUV’s rear bumper.

That strategy has led to many Jeep gas/fuel tank fires and explosions, just as it did with the Pinto. When a Jeep with such a gas tank is struck from behind by a lower-riding vehicle than the high-riding Jeep, the trailing vehicle’s bumper can puncture the Jeep’s fuel tank.

Then, when gas or fuel is spilled, it can ignite by means of a single spark from the collision, causing an exploding Jeep gas tank. Occupants of the vehicle then can be severely burned and even killed by the blaze.

An even worse design was Chevy side saddle tanks for fuel, which were placed in more than 10 million General Motors pickups from 1973-1987.

Federal data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (formerly the Fatal Accident Reporting System) indicated that more than 2,000 persons were killed in such vehicles’ crashes between 1973 and 2009 — or 20 times the number of deaths from Ford Pinto fuel tank fires.

As for Jeep gas tank fires, at least 70 persons are believed to have died in crashes due to Jeep fuel tank defects.

Chrysler Gas Tank Recall

As with GM when its Chevrolet side saddle gas tanks in trucks were found to be defective, Chrysler dragged its feet and stubbornly resisted admitting a mistake and taking corrective action with Jeeps. As early as 2010, officials with the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration insisted on a Jeep gas tank recall for some vehicles to spare innocent Americans.

Finally, three years later, Chrysler assented to a gas tank recall. But it narrowed that down to about 1.5 million Jeep Cherokee SUVs from 1993-2004 and Jeep Liberty SUVs from 2002-2007, while refusing to recall about a million Jeep Grand Cherokee SUVs from 1999-2004 for the same gas tank defect.

This Jeep fuel tank recall turned out to be not just limited, but slow. In the first two years of the recall, Chrysler had made a fix on less than a quarter of all such vehicles. Federal safety officials believe it will take five years to complete the gas tank recall at that rate.

Also, the Jeep gas tank repairs have not been particularly effective.

All Chrysler did was jam a trailer hitch onto the rear of such vehicles, in hopes it would shield the gas tank from a rear-end impact. Chrysler did not run proper safety tests to vet this. It merely hoped it would work.

And it hasn’t, as evidenced by the fact that Jeep fires have occurred even for vehicles with a trailer hitch on the back. Instead, Chrysler was advised by safety officials to place a metal shield or skid plate on Jeeps to protect gas tanks — a move it made on later models upon their manufacture. It was good enough for subsequent Jeeps, but not for earlier ones?

Jeep Gas Tank Fire Lawsuits

Chrysler’s inadequate Jeep fuel tank recall does not mean victims of its negligence cannot sue the automaker. Chrysler is still legally responsible for the damages its Jeeps have caused, and victims can file lawsuits pertaining to a Jeep gas tank exploding.

You can get a free case review toward such an injury lawsuit by notifying the Willis Law Firm today. Let us know how someone in your family was victimized by a defective Jeep gas tank explosion or fire, and we’ll provide you with free legal advice toward a possible lawsuit.

With national experience handling major auto defect cases, the Willis Law Firm stands ready to provide you with a skilled, knowledgeable and experienced Jeep gas tank attorney or Jeep injury lawyer for your case. Notify us today so we can launch that process.


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