The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are demanding an explanation from Chrysler over the company's slow pace in carrying out repairs for added protection to the rear fuel tanks of older-model Jeep SUVs.

The NHTSA states that, with the current pace of Chrysler, it would take almost five years to repair all the affected Jeep Liberty and Jeep Grand Cherokee SUVs that were involved in the recall that was announced in the summer of last year.

The recalls were made in June 2013 as the NHTSA insisted that with the fuel tanks of the vehicles located behind the rear axle, the tanks receive less protection during rear-end crashes, which could lead to fuel leaks and fires. At the time of the recall, the problem had been linked to 51 fatalities, according to the agency.

After initially resisting the request of the NHTSA, Chrysler eventually recalled 1.56 million Liberty SUVs with model years 2002 to 2007 and Grand Cherokee SUVs with model years 1993 to 1998. Chrysler said that it would be placing a trailer hitch assembly in the recalled vehicles, which would add protection to the fuel tanks for low and medium speed rear-end crashes.

Chrysler has said that the company's suppliers are working six days every week to construct the trailer hitch assemblies. The company also said that customers with the affected vehicles will receive notifications when the scheduled service of their Jeep SUVs has come.

The NHTSA, not pleased with the pace that Chrysler is working, has issued to the company a "special order" that is signed by the agency's chief counsel, Kevin Vincent. 

The order demands that Chrysler should present documents for the explanation of the slow pace of the company's recall and repair efforts. The deadline for the documents to be presented to the NHTSA is on July 16, and if Chrysler fails to produce the required documentation, the company could receive a fine of up to $35 million.

"Although NHTSA acknowledges that recall campaigns may have low completion rates for any number of reasons, the agency has no intention of allowing Chrysler, or any other manufacturer, to delay recall completion to the detriment of safety," Vincent wrote to Chrysler. 

Chrysler, however, said that the company selected suppliers for the trailer hitch assembly and began production as quick as it could.

"Launching a safety recall demands complex engineering and close coordination with NHTSA well before an auto maker accumulates replacement parts," Chrysler said in a statement. "To accommodate the high-volume production required for this campaign, (we) had to find multiple new supplier partners to (make) this part that far exceeded normal demand." 

ⓒ 2021 All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.