In the 1970’s, Ford Motor Company paid out millions of dollars in cases brought against its Ford Pinto, a car with a poorly placed gas tank that easily caught fire and exploded with even minor impacts. Despite the fact that this occurred over 50 years ago, another automaker has continued to place its fuel tank in a deadly location. The makers of the Jeep Grand Cherokee, Fiat Chrysler Automotive (FCA), have placed highly dangerous extreme-rear mounted gas tanks on many of their vehicles. The placement of these tanks has led to deadly fires and explosions upon impact.
These types of horrific accidents have been happening for decades now, and have injured, maimed, and burned people alive. And while some models have been recalled, others are still on the road, posing a threat to those who drive them, and those who share the road with them. If you or a loved one were injured in a fire caused by a Jeep with a rear mounted gas tank, you are not alone. The experienced attorneys at McEldrew Young Purtell Merritt can help you find justice, and will hold Fiat Chrysler Automotive accountable for their dangerous practices.
Explosions and fires have been linked to Jeeps with fuel tanks mounted in the extreme rear
What Causes Jeep Fires and Explosions?
There are several Jeeps that have gas tanks mounted behind the rear axle, in the extreme rear of the vehicle, where they are protected only by a plastic bumper. Since Jeeps are typically higher above the ground than smaller cars, small vehicles are likely to go under the bumper on a rear collision, and strike directly on the gas tank. When any of these Jeeps are hit from behind in this fashion, even in a minor fender bender, their tanks can rupture causing a deadly explosion.
Fiat Chrysler Automotive (FCA) knew from the infamous Ford Pinto that gas tanks mounted in the extreme rear could cause explosions, yet they continued to manufacture Jeeps with this design. In fact, back in the late 1970’s, Chrysler’s own internal safety engineer concluded that fuel tanks placed ahead of the rear axle were better protected, and encouraged Chrysler to design their vehicles with this in mind.
Which Jeep Models and Years Are at Risk of Exploding?
The following Jeeps all have gas tanks mounted in the extreme rear:
- Jeep Grand Cherokes from 1993-2004
- Jeep Cherokees from 1986-2001
- Jeep Wranglers from 1997-2007
- Jeep Liberties from 2002-2007
In total, there are about 5.1 million vehicles affected.
Even a minor fender bender can turn into a deadly accident
Under pressure from safety advocates, and facing numerous lawsuits related to these deadly explosions, FCA finally issued a recall for 1.56 million vehicles, excluding the dangerous Jeep Wranglers, and Jeep Cherokee. Moving the gas tank to a new location would obviously be extraordinarily costly for FCA, so they came up with another solution; they agreed to install a trailer hitch on the back of the Jeep for free. The only problem with this solution is that, of course, it didn’t work.
The idea was that the trailer hitch would provide additional protection for the tank, and prevent direct impact. But in high impact crashes, the hitch was prone to buckle and pierce the gas tank that it was supposedly there to protect. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) stated that the hitch only provides “incremental safety benefits” in “certain low and moderate crash incidents”, but after FCA’s CEO met privately with the head of the NHTSA, suddenly the NHTSA decided that a tow package was now a safety device.
Know Your Rights
FCA knew that the placement of their gas tanks could cause severe burns, injuries, and deaths. Yet despite warnings and recommendations from their own experts, they did it anyway. Then FCA refused to issue a true and full recall, instead of making a secretive deal with Federal officials to place a tow hitch on vehicles that caused just as many explosions as it prevented.
If you or a loved one were injured by a Jeep fire or explosion, you have the right to be compensated for your medical care, lost wages, and disfigurement, as well as punitive damages. The skilled attorneys at McEldrew Young Purtell Merritt can help you hold FCA accountable and in the process, make the roads safer for everyone on them. Fill out our form or call us at 1-866-869-5318 for a free consultation.