Auburn Hills, Mich. – Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has recalled almost 240,000 vehicles potentially equipped with defective lower control arms
, according to documentation submitted to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. The campaign affects 2007 Jeep Liberty sport utility vehicles produced between Aug. 29, 2003, and June 29, 2007, at the Toledo North Assembly Plant in Toledo, Ohio. FCA suspects all of the models referenced in the action contain the defective parts.
Affected vehicles feature lower control arms that are prone to corrosion damage and could therefore fracture. Such an event would drastically degrade vehicle driveability and increase the likelihood of an accident. FCA has discovered at least one collision
linked to the defect, according to an internal chronology document given to the NHTSA. That said, the automaker has yet to receive reports connecting the problematic part to any injuries.
Timeline of Events
FCA on March 12, 2012, recalled numerous 2004-2005 Jeep Liberty SUVs with corrosion-prone lower control arms. Most of these vehicles were sold in so-called “salt-belt states,” or states that experience significant winter precipitation and therefore consistently deploy corrosive road salt. The car manufacturer expanded this recall June 5, 2012, this time including 2006-2007 Jeep Liberty models. On Aug. 16, 2016, the FCA Vehicle Safety and Regulatory Compliance organization launched an investigation following the receipt of customer complaints involving 2004-2007 Jeep Liberty SUVs that were not included in the two earlier safety campaigns. These reports outlined instances of lower control arm corrosion and fracturing. Ultimately, the VSRC decided to initiate field monitoring, which began in September 2016 and came to a close in January 2017.
The FCA VSRC initiated yet another field survey immediately following the initial analysis to determine whether the defect existed outside of the salt-belt states. In March, the survey team returned with results: 2004-2007 Jeep Liberty SUVs in other states were indeed equipped with lower control arms that showed signs of internal and external corrosion. Despite these findings, the VSRC decided to close its investigation April 6, 2017, and switch back to field monitoring, which continued for more than a year. On April 23, 2018, the group took stock of the field monitoring data. More than 157 reports had been filed pertaining to 2004-2007 Jeep Liberty SUVs not included in the original recalls. This finding prompted the VSRC to launch a third voluntary safety campaign April 25, 2018.
FCA will direct dealers to replace the rear lower control arms
in affected vehicles free of charge, according to an NHTSA recall acknowledgment document. The automaker intends to notify dealers and owners on or around June 20, 2018. Individuals in possession of recalled 2007 Jeep Liberty SUVs who need more immediate assistance can contact FCA customer service personnel by calling (800) 853-1403. Callers should use the internal recall reference code U38. Owners can also reach out to the NHTSA directly using the agency’s toll-free Vehicle Safety Hotline at (888) 327-4236.