Auto safety regulators are investigating a recall last year of about 895,000 Jeep and Dodge sport utility vehicles with sun visors that can short-circuit and ignite after some of them apparently caught fire even after being repaired.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said that it had received eight reports of fires in vehicles whose electrical wiring had been repaired in a recall started by Fiat Chrysler in July, according to a statement on its website. No injuries were reported.
“My car filled with smoke and I could not breathe in the car,” the owner of a Jeep Grand Cherokee wrote in a complaint last month. “The fire could have burned me had I been on a highway and unable to stop. I think it is incredible that I did my part, took the car to get the recall fixed and was returned a car that was clearly not fixed.”
Another Jeep owner told the agency last month that “the sun visor caught fire, and flames spread throughout the vehicle.”
Fiat Chrysler initially recalled the vehicles – 2011-14 Jeep Grand Cherokees and Dodge Durangos – in July because of a wiring problem in the vanity mirror that could cause a short circuit, resulting in fire. The action included about 651,000 vehicles in the United States.
The automaker said the problem originated at the assembly plant: If workers had to make repairs to or around the vanity mirror, a screw could penetrate the wiring when workers reassembled the parts. For the recall, the automaker’s repair involved installing plastic to protect the wiring. The safety agency first began looking into the issue in 2013, prompted by 39 complaints, including three that involved injuries. “In some reports, the fire spread to the front seats and/or door panels of the vehicle,” the agency reported at the time. “In one report the sunroof was damaged, causing the glass to shatter.”
Chrysler initially resisted a recall, telling regulators that there was “no unreasonable risk to motor vehicle safety.” But the safety agency insisted.
A spokesman for Fiat Chrysler, Eric Mayne, said the company was cooperating with the recall query.