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The lessons learned from Chrysler’s recall of fire-prone Wranglers: Motoramic Dash

May 21, 2012

Jeep Wrangler fire recall
Jeep Wrangler fire recall

This is the Motoramic Dash, a daily roundup of the most interesting news in the automotive world.

This weekend, federal auto safety regulators announced Chrysler would recall 67,872 Jeep Wranglers from the 2010 model year to fix a problem that could cause the vehicle to burst into flames -- just as customers have been saying since last October. By typical recall standards, this problem was fixed quickly, yet it shows why owners sometimes have to keep pushing to get their problems answered.

Chrysler told the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that the cause of the fires was a protective plate installed over the automatic transmission in the affected Wrangler for the 2010 model year. That plate was placed too close to the Wrangler's catalytic converter, and if debris gets caught in the plate, the converter can set it on fire. (Chrysler will soon start replacing the plate with a bar; Jeep dealers will have the details in a few weeks.)

Chrysler did move quickly from the time NHTSA opened its probe in March, yet the company already had 14 complaints of fires linked to the skid plate in its records. Fires often get less attention than they deserve, and Chrysler told at least one customer that the Wrangler fire shown above was likely caused by a lack of maintenance. NHTSA has a system for sorting through millions of complaints to find trends that suggest a defect, but it missed this one. If you think you're car has a safety defect, and you find you're not alone in your concern, you may have to raise a ruckus to get your problem addressed.

Other stories this morning:

2013 Shelby GT500 reviewed: If you haven't read Alex Lloyd's take, please do; here are a few more concurring opinions: Car and Driver; Motor Trend; Inside Line

Formula 1 gets OK for $3 billion IPO: Remember, the world's most popular form of motor racing is only worth a sliver of Facebook. (Bloomberg)

GM won't advertise in the next Super Bowl: And what do auto dealers do when someone walks into the showroom with their eyes on a car and immediately deem it too expensive? (AutoNews)

Briscoe wins Indy 500 pole; Lotus teams struggle: The best commentary on the Indianapolis 500 qualifying struggles of Lotus driver Jean Alesi -- who's now a dangerous 16 mph slower than pole sitter Ryan Briscoe -- came from Racecar Engineering's Twitter feed, quipping that Alesi would have been faster with a car from the Indy 500 museum. (Indy Star)