NHTSA Investigating Chrysler Ignition Switches

As another hearing began on Wednesday into the General Motors ignition switch recall, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced it has opened two probes into similar possible ignition switch defects in about 1.25 million vehicles from the Chrysler Group of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.

The GM switch recalls now total about 8 million vehicles, including another one this week of 3.16 million cars. The switches can be bumped inadvertently or jarred by a rough road out of the "run" position, shutting off the engine and disabling power steering and brake assist and, usually, the airbags.

No deaths and one injury are linked to the Chrysler switch issue, which involves five models. NHTSA also says it knows of no crashes where the airbags should have, but did not, deploy.

The initial GM recalls of small cars in February and March are linked to 13 deaths and 54 crashes. The latest GM recall this week is linked with eight crashes and six injuries.

One of the new NHTSA investigations covers about 700,000 2008-10 Dodge Journey SUVs and Dodge Grand Caravan and Chrysler Town and Country minivans.

NHTSA said the spring in the switch can pop the switch back to a position beyond "run" and "accessory" after the vehicle is started and in that position it is vulnerable to turning off the engine if bumped or jarred.

The 2010 models of these vehicles already were recalled in 2011 for the ignition switch, but NHTSA says it has had further complaints about vehicles that got the recall fix.

The second NHTSA ignition investigation covers about 525,000 2006-07 Jeep Commander and 2005-06 Jeep Grand Cherokee about which NHTSA has complaints that the driver's knee can bump the ignition and move it out of "run."


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