Chrysler has been forced to recall 895,000 Dodge Durango and Jeep Grand Cherokee vehicles due to a problem with the vanity light wiring. The recall affects vehicles made from 2011-2014.
After receiving reports to fires starting within the sun visor, Chrysler found that if not repositioned properly after a repair, the wires for the vanity light could be punctured by a nearby screw. This could cause a short circuit, which could go on indefinitely since there is no fuse for that system.
A total of 52 (PDF) fires were reported, including three injuries. No incidents were reported regarding cars that had not undergone repairs in the affected area. To fix the issue, Chrysler is recalling all vehicles prone to the problem, whether or not repairs have been conducted. The company will install a guide that will hold the wires in place, preventing them from straying into the path of the screw.
Although Chrysler reported that the risk was minimal, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) forced the recall after complaints continued to come in. Most fires caused by the defect were minimal, although in a few cases the fire was more serious.
"In some reports the fire spread to the front seats and/or door panels of the vehicle," says the NHTSA in a statement. "In one report, the sunroof was damaged causing the glass to shatter."
This is the second recall in as many weeks for Chrysler. The company recalled nearly 700,000 vehicles June 30 due to a problem with the ignition switch. Other auto manufacturers have not fared much better. The number of vehicles recalled so far in 2014 has already reached about 40 million, far exceeding the previous record of 30.8 million set in 2004. More than half of the recalled vehicles have been from General Motors. A defect in ignition switches was the primary problem there as well, but affected a much larger array of vehicles.
Chrysler has not given a timeline for when it expect the recall to be completed. However the issue is relatively easy to fix, requiring only the disassembly of the sun visor in order to install a spacer. Chysler will also be updating mechanics on the need to replace the wires in the correct position.