Should the Jeep Tow Hitch "Fix" Be Crash-Tested?

The Center For Auto Safety wants feds to treat recalled Jeeps like Ford Pintos of old.

Posted in News

— The recent recall of 1.5 million Jeeps has The Center for Auto Safety (CAS) wanting more vehicles recalled, as well as additional testing of the tow hitch design that Chrysler will use during the recall.

Chrysler is recalling model year 2002-2007 Liberty and 1993-1998 Jeep Grand Cherokee vehicles because of a rear-crash fire risk.

Chrysler says the "fix" will come in the form of a tow hitch that will allegedly help protect the gas tank during a low-impact crash.  CAS wants the government to test just how effective the tow hitch is in a crash.

CAS Executive Director, Clarence Ditlow, believes the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) should treat this as they did the Ford Pinto in 1978.

Ditlow wants NHTSA to perform crash tests of Chrysler's proposed tow hitch remedy to verify the modified Jeeps meet the present safety standard. 

"If the modified Jeeps do not pass, we call on NHTSA to require Chrysler to develop a more effective remedy just as NHTSA did with the Pinto when it failed the first round of tests," Ditlow said.

Additionally, Ditlow is asking that more Jeeps be included in the recall.

"In view of Chrysler's refusal to recall 1999-04 Grand Cherokees, we call on NHTSA to move to an initial determination of a defect in order to force their recall as well."

For model year 1999-2004 Grand Cherokees, Chrysler isn't recalling the vehicles but will use what they call a "customer satisfaction campaign" instead.

Chrysler will contact owners and offer to inspect vehicles if equipped with an aftermarket tow hitch.  If needed, Chrysler will replace any hitches that show evidence of sharp edges or other puncture risks from the tow hitch or mounting hardware. If an aftermarket trailer hitch is not installed, Chrysler will not install any type of hitch.