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Published: Sunday, 5/20/2012

87,000 Jeep Wranglers recalled for risk of fire

2010 model year of Toledo-made SUVs affected

BLADE STAFF AND NEWS SERVICES
After Chrysler reconfigured the catalytic converter for the 2010 Jeep Wrangler, the changes created a gap between the converter and the transmission where debris can become lodged and catch fire. After Chrysler reconfigured the catalytic converter for the 2010 Jeep Wrangler, the changes created a gap between the converter and the transmission where debris can become lodged and catch fire.
CHRYSLER GROUP LLC Enlarge

DETROIT -- Chrysler Group LLC is recalling nearly 87,000 Jeep Wranglers because of a risk of fires.

The recall affects only Wranglers from the 2010 model year that have automatic transmissions and were built before July 14, 2010, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said in documents posted Saturday on its Web site.

All Jeep Wranglers are made at Chrysler's Toledo Assembly complex.

Debris can get caught between a plate that protects the transmission and the catalytic converter, causing a fire. A catalytic converter is part of the exhaust system and uses heat and precious metals to control pollution.

Chrysler knows of at least 14 complaints of fires caused by the problem with 2010 Wranglers. The company said it doesn't know of any injuries. It said debris can get trapped when the vehicles are driven off-road or through tall brush.

Chrysler will fix the problem free of charge by replacing the plate with a bar introduced on the 2011 models so debris doesn't get caught.

The recall affects about 68,000 Wranglers in the United States, 6,000 in Canada, 1,500 in Mexico, and about 11,000 in other countries, Chrysler spokesman Eric Mayne said.

Chrysler will contact all owners by mail. Recall work is expected to begin this month.

Mr. Mayne said investigators from the safety agency also asked Chrysler for data from Wranglers from the 2007 through 2012 model years for comparison.

The agency determined that only the 2010 models had the debris problem.

Mr. Mayne said that on the 2010 Wrangler, Chrysler reconfigured the engine's catalytic converter for emissions compliance.

In the process, the gap between the converter and the plate was narrowed, causing debris to lodge in the cavity. He said motorists were warned in the owners' manual to check the underbody from time to time for debris.

The safety agency said in documents that it had received 14 complaints of Wrangler fires from the other model years, but Mr. Mayne said there was no pattern or common cause in those fires.

Officials of the safety agency said early in April that the 2010 model-year Wrangler was under investigation after reports of fires.



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