On June 18, 2014, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration NHTSA announced that it would be launching two new investigations. The NHTSA's probe will be evaluating 1.25 million vehicles produced by the Chrysler Group.
The Chrysler Group investigation is aimed at identifying whether the ignition switch defects that have plagued General Motors may also be responsible for similar accidents experienced by Chrysler vehicle owners.
This inadvertent issue with the ignition switch has led to reports of stalled vehicles. Thus far, the NHTSA is concerned about 700,000 Dodge Journey SUVs and Dodge Grand Caravan and Chrysler Town and Country minivans.
The NHTSA is looking specifically at whether Chrysler Group produced vehicles have the same propensity to accidently shift the ignition switch away from the run position. Like in the GM vehicles that have been recalled, the NHTSA has received complaints that rough road conditions may cause the ignition key to switch the ignition switch off or away from the run position.
The NHTSA is also investigating whether the engines of 525,000 2006-07 Jeep Commanders and 2005-06 Jeep Grand Cherokees have ignition switches that can be turned off after an unexpected jolt from a drivers keg or a key ring. Chrysler and the NHTSA have both received hundreds of complaints about stalling Chrysler vehicles.
The issue with ignition stalls is that if a frontal accident occurs and the key ring is not in the run position, airbags may not work properly. Chrysler stated that they will be conducting their own internal investigation in parallel with the NHTSA investigation and that they will be cooperating with the NHTSA.
At this stage, the NHTSA is merely inquiring into the scope of the problem in order to determine whether a recall is necessary. The NHTSA investigations of the Chrysler vehicles can be found here.