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June 7, 2010

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced today that Chrysler Group LLC is recalling nearly 600,000 vehicles under three separate recalls.

The car manufacturer recalled 288,968 Jeep Wrangler passenger vehicles spanning model years 2006 through 2010 because a brake fluid leak can cause partial loss of brakes at the affected wheel and increase the risk of a crash. According to the company, contact between the right and left front inner fender liners and the right front and left rear brake tubes may cause wear of the tubes and leakage of brake fluid. Chrysler said the company is not aware of any accidents related to this defect.

Under the recall, Chrysler will revise the right and left front inner fender liners, add revised fender liner retaining fasteners, inspect the brake tubes for wear and replace any tubes found to have the corrosion protective coating compromised.

In another recall, 284,831 Dodge Grand Caravan and Chrysler Town & Country in 2008 and 2009 model year are recalled due to a short circuit that could occur inside the sliding door, overheating the latch and possibly resulting in a fire. An improperly routed wire harness may lead to wear on the wire insulation by coming in contact with lower sliding door hinge bracket.

Chrysler will inspect the sliding door wire track wire assembly and the sliding door power drive unit wire assembly for damage and repair or replace as necessary, tie strap the two harnesses together and route the harnesses under the sliding door weather strip.

The third recall affects 25,336 model year 2007 Dodge Caliber and Jeep Compass passenger vehicles. A defect involving the accelerator pedal can potentially cause the pedal to bind or stick.

On April 29, 2010, the NHTSA opened an investigation based on five complaints of binding or sticking of 2007 Caliber accelerator pedals.

In a letter to the NHTSA, Chrysler said the company would conduct a voluntary recall for the accelerator pedal defect but felt that the defect did not present an unreasonable risk to motor vehicle safety because the vehicles’ Electronic Throttle Control System is equipped with “Smart Brake” technology. The Smart Brake would override the pedal in instances where a disagreement exists between the throttle and the brake, allowing the brake to signal the engine controller to reduce engine power and allowing the operator to stop the car.

According to an article in The New York Times, at least one complaint to the NHTSA said the “Smart Brake” did aid the driver when the pedal defect caused the accelerator pedal to break.

“While driving 55 miles per hour, the accelerator pedal snapped and went underneath the brake pedal when it was depressed. As a result, the brake pedal could not be depressed. The vehicle was pulled off the road and the emergency brake was applied in order to stop the vehicle,” the owner wrote to the agency.

Under this recall, Chrysler will inspect the accelerator pedal assembly of recalled vehicles and replace all potentially affected by the defect.

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