DETROIT — The U.S. government’s road safety agency is accusing Chrysler of moving too slowly to fix some Jeep SUVs in a recall announced more than a year ago.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in a letter released Wednesday, is asking the automaker why it’s taking so long to fix as many as 2.5 million older Grand Cherokees and Libertys with gas tanks mounted behind the rear axles. The tanks could rupture in rear collisions, leak fuel and cause fires.
The letter is the latest skirmish in a long fight between the automaker and agency over the safety of the SUVs, all built before the 2008 model year. Initially NHTSA wanted the company to recall 2.7 million of them, but Chrysler refused, saying they were as safe as similar vehicles. They eventually worked a deal to recall 1.56 million, with 1.2 million others placed in a campaign to be inspected for hitches. Last year NHTSA said a three-year investigation showed 51 people had died in fiery crashes in Jeeps with gas tanks behind the rear axle.