LINCOLN (CBS13) —You bring a recalled vehicle into the dealership expecting to take away the danger but we learned of at least nine fires after a Fiat Chrysler recall repair. Now after our digging, there’s a recall to the recall repair to re-fix 350-thousand vehicles.
The Hanson family brought their 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee into the dealer for a recall repair expecting to take away the danger. Instead, the family is just one of at least nine that have had fires after the recall repairs.
In the front cabin of the Jeep, a burned out area over the passenger’s seat and soot in the car is what husband and father Eric Hanson saw when he arrived at the scene of the family’s car fire. “I was astonished,” he said. The aftermath of the fire that tore through the Hanson family’s Jeep Grand Cherokee was devastating.
Wife and mother, Stacie Hanson says she and her two kids were just sitting down to eat at Taco Bell, when her daughter yelled, “Mom your car has smoke coming out of the whole inside of it,” recalls Stacie.
Eric points out his family was sitting in the SUV just minutes earlier and recalls what first responders said to him, “The firemen were saying that you guys were super lucky,” he said.
The fire report says it “appeared to have started in the head liner/visor area above the passenger front seat.” This is the same area of their Jeep they had repaired as part of a recall at the start of the year.
Chrysler recalled 651-thousand Jeep Grand Cherokees and Dodge Durango’s model years 2011 thru 2014, over an issue with the sun visor vanity lamp wiring and an increased risk of fire.
“We thought it was fixed in January,” said Stacie.
However, a document sent to dealerships in March proves Chrysler knew two months after the Hanson’s had their Jeep fixed of a problem with how some recall repairs were done.
The company revised its repair instructions to dealerships saying, “It is critical that the sun visor wire remains under the clip when reinstalling the visor to prevent improper wire routing.”
However, at the time Chrysler never notified the customers who already had the repairs. That is what makes the Hanson’s even angrier, they brought their Jeep back into the dealership twice after those updated instructions went out from Chrysler in March. Once in April, when the visor light bulb went out and again in May, after smelling something burning.
“Smelling smoke ahhh.. maybe this needs to go on the priority list,” said Stacie.
The dealership told the Hanson’s they had to wait for parts.
“And we waited and our car burned,” said Eric.
CBS13 has learned of at least nine fires occurred in vehicles after the recall fix.
Consumer advocate Rosemary Shahan of Consumers for Auto Reliability & Safety says if there is a known danger, automakers should not let these cars on the road.
“And it’s really reprehensible,” said Rosemary.
The federal government fined Fiat Chrysler a record 105-million dollars this summer for its handling of 23-recalls affecting 11-million cars, including this recall.
“Chrysler either needs to come up with a better fix, or buy these cars back,” said Rosemary.
After our initial investigation, two other families across the country contacted us saying they too had fires after recall repairs were done on their cars.
Now more than a month after we aired our story, Fiat Chrysler has issued a new recall related to the recall affecting 352,831 SUV’s saying its own, “investigation discovered the service procedure, if not followed precisely, may leave vehicles susceptible to a short-circuit, creating a potential fire hazard.”
After we got involved Fiat Chrysler, compensated the Hanson’s with a brand new Jeep Grand Cherokee.
“I feel a lot safer,” said twelve-year-old Josie Hanson.
Although the Hanson’s think the makers of their recalled jeep gambled with their lives.
“You don’t think your car is going to catch on fire,” said Stacie.
“This happened to a family, this happened to somebody, they need to know this,” said Eric.
Advisories from Chrysler show it knew of confusion surrounding the recall fix as early as November of last year, which is more than a month before the Hanson’s initially had their recall fixed. In addition, the dealership in this case tells us the fix was not crystal clear to the dealership community.
Fiat Chrysler says this newest recall only affects Cherokee’s and Durango’s produced before September of 2012. In addition, that overheating conditions were reported in fewer than .02% of cars.
The federal government is now investigating Chrysler’s handling of these recall repairs.
After our initial investigation, federal lawmakers reacted to our findings.
“Recall effectiveness has been a critical issue with defective GM ignition switches, exploding Takata airbags — and now this serious defect in some Fiat Chrysler vehicles,” said U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), the top Democrat on the Senate Commerce Committee. “Just ordering a recall is not enough; we have to ensure it is done quickly and correctly. As I’ve been saying for some time now, the automakers need to stop stalling and get the fixes done as soon as possible.”
“This is yet another example of why Congress must take action to address the serious gaps in our auto safety laws, which are putting lives at risk,” said Representative Lois Capps (D-CA). “Anytime a manufacturer, dealership, or rental company is aware of a safety recall or other safety issues with their vehicles, they have a responsibility to ensure these defects are fixed properly and promptly before the cars are put back onto the road.”