Chrysler Probed by NHTSA Over Ignitions in Jeeps, Vans

Chrysler Group LLC is being investigated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for ignition switches in certain Jeep models, minivans and Dodge Journeys, a total of 1.25 million vehicles.

In rough driving conditions, drivers of certain Jeep models can mistakenly knock the ignition key with their leg or knee, causing it to slip from “run” to the “off” or “ACC” position, causing the engine to shut off, NHTSA said in a report on its web site. There were 32 incidents reported, one crash and no deaths or injuries, according to NHTSA. The regulator is looking at about 525,000 vehicles, including Jeep Commanders from model years 2006-2007 and Jeep Grand Cherokees from 2005-2006.

A second investigation involves about 700,000 Dodge Grand Caravans, Chrysler Town & Country minivans and Dodge Journeys, from model years 2008 through 2010, with an ignition key that can inadvertently move from the “run” position. NHTSA received 23 complaints and no reports of crashes.

Vehicle ignitions are under increased scrutiny following General Motors Co. (GM)’s recall earlier this year of 2.59 million small cars with faults in that function that were linked to a least 13 deaths. GM, which has stepped up the pace of recalls since starting that action in February, has called back a record 20 million vehicles in North America in 2014, with 9 million of them flagged for ignition-related problems.

The Jeep condition could affect power steering, brakes and and both issues could cause the air bags to fail, NHTSA said.

“Chrysler Group is awaiting additional information from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration,” Chrysler said in a statement. “The Company is prepared to cooperate fully with the investigation.”

Chrysler, based in Auburn Hills, Michigan, is a unit of Turin, Italy-based Fiat SpA. (F)

To contact the reporter on this story: Mark Clothier in Southfield, Michigan at mclothier@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Cecile Daurat at cdaurat@bloomberg.net Niamh Ring, Jamie Butters

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