Nearly 220,000 Jeep Cherokee SUVs are being recalled by the Stellantis Corporation because the tailgates can catch fire whether the vehicle is running or turned off.
Owners have been requested to park the defective vehicles outside any residence and away from other vehicles or structures that could ignite.
The recall is for specific Cherokee models produced between 2014 through 2016. The cause of the fires stems from water leaking into the computer that controls the liftgate and causing an electrical short that can cause the fires.
Liftgate failure may occur before any instance of fire happens.
The company has been unable to develop a fix for the problem, and the problem first surfaced in reviews of customer data. Letters describing the problem and any action to be taken will be sent to customers by June 30.
No current data shows how many Jeep vehicles have caught fire. The latest reports show no signs of injuries from the faulty tailgates. As of today, 21 field reports, 50 customer assist records, and 23 warranty claims have been made regarding this issue.
Owners are encouraged to call the Vehicle Safety Hotline at 888-327-4236, enter their 17-digit vehicle ID number, or visit the government recall website for additional information.
The “park outside” issue could be problematic for those who commute to work and use indoor parking garages or paid parking lots.
Michael Brooks, who is the Executive Director of the Center for Auto Safety, says that even those who pay monthly fees in parking garages are being turned away until the necessary repairs necessitating the recall have been thoroughly documented.
In October 2015, a safety recall was announced concerning the same problem for the 2014 and 2015 Jeep Cherokee models. The company said water shields would be designed and installed to prevent moisture from corroding electrical connections in the computer area.
The company is saying that this previous “fix” may not be the total answer to the problem, and those previous owners should take advantage of the new recall as soon as a new “fix” is developed.
Brooks is concerned that the same issue is occurring again and that there may have been 50-100 tailgate fires.