The recall includes 2002 and 2003 model-year Jeep Libertys and 2002 through 2004 model-year Jeep Grand Cherokees. The 2002 model year was the first for the Liberty. Chrysler spokesman Eric Mayne said about half the affected vehicles are Toledo-built Libertys.
According to documents posted to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Web site on Friday, part of the module that controls the air bag can fail, causing either the front or side curtain air bags to inflate.
Mr. Mayne said the inadvertent deployments are “extremely rare” and the investigation found the air bag warning light came on prior to the air bags deploying.
“In the reported incidents drivers got a warning light that was illuminated. What we’re saying is that even though the events are rare, if you get a warning light that illuminates intermittently while driving or remains on permanently, then you should contact the dealer,” Mr. Mayne said.
The NHTSA began investigating complaints of inadvertent air bag deployments in Jeep Libertys in October, 2011. The probe was expanded to include Jeep Grand Cherokees in January. According to documents, the investigation found 215 reports of inadvertent deployment — 126 in the Liberty and 89 in the Grand Cherokee. The air bag deployments resulted in 81 minor injuries.
Mr. Mayne said none of the deployments caused a crash.
Of the approximately 920,000 vehicles included in the recall, about 745,000 were sold in the United States. Another 49,500 were sold in Canada, and 22,000 in Mexico. The rest were sold outside North America.
Chrysler is expected to send out recall notices and begin fixing the potentially affected vehicles in January.
Chrysler is also sending notices asking owners of 2011 Chrysler 200s and Dodge Avengers to take their cars to dealers to fix a problem that can cause the cars to stall.
The Associated Press reported the NHTSA received 161 complaints of those vehicles stalling, mostly at slow speed. The investigation found a problem in a computer that runs pollution control.
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