The Jeep Fire Problem: Fires and Explosions in Jeeps with Rear Gas Tanks


Jeep-FireA Look at the Danger and Trauma Surrounding This Defect & What You Can Do if You’ve Been Affected

Explosions upon impact.

Fiery flames engulfing vehicles.

Injuries sustained.

Lives lost.

Explosions upon impact. Fiery flames engulfing vehicles. Injuries sustained. Lives lost. These descriptors are things we’d never hope to hear, but unfortunately, the reality remains—when it comes to Jeeps with rear gas tanks, these circumstances are all too common.

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When these Jeeps get rear-ended, the plastic gas tanks can rupture and catch fire. The occupants of the Jeep and the other vehicle can burn to death.

The Jeep fire defect is an incredibly intricate, complicated issue, but the bulk of the problem (when summed up), is this: Jeep manufactured and sold millions of SUVs with gas tanks that were located in the extreme rear of the vehicle—behind the rear axle and protected only by plastic fascia or a plastic bumper. When these Jeeps get rear-ended, their gas tanks can rupture, leaking gasoline, and endangering both vehicles.

If the gasoline catches fire, often, the worst happens.

The affected vehicles have caused significant damage—in fact, they’ve caused over 50 deaths and hundreds of fires.

But here’s the thing—despite the fact that these vehicle issues have been solved with newer models, these older-model vehicles are still on the road.

Every day, we see a Jeep like this drive by us.

People have died and people will continue to die unless Fiat Chrysler does something about it—Fiat Chrysler should make a change, take a stand, and own up to the damage, destruction, and danger that’s is caused by these rear gas tank Jeeps.

Whether you’ve never heard of this tragedy or you’re regrettably all too familiar with it, we encourage you to keep reading—there’s so much layered within this issue. FCA has refused to do to correct the problem, so these issues continue to plague us and affect the people we care most about.

Jeep Fires: The Undeniable Issue

In the past, Jeep manufactured and sold SUVs that were designed with the gas tank located in the rear of the vehicle—similar to the 1970s-era Ford Pinto. The issue with this design lies in the location of the gas tanks—when rear-ended, the plastic tank is only “protected” by plastic fascia or a plastic bumper. When a Jeep of this design gets hit from the back, that tank can rupture, the Jeep can explode, and passengers inside the Jeep (and potentially in the other vehicle) can burn alive.

The craziest part about this tragedy? It’s been happening for decades.

Though this design flaw has been corrected in newer model vehicles, those older vehicles are still on the road. The rear gas tank concept is a part of the design for these vehicles:

  • 1993-2004 Jeep Grand Cherokees
  • 1993-2001 Jeep Cherokees
  • 1997-2007 Jeep Wranglers
  • 2002-2007 Jeep Liberties

Jeep sold millions of these vehicles and despite the increased risk of fuel tank damage and subsequent fire, Fiat Chrysler hasn’t taken them off the road or truly recalled them. It’s an issue that’s never had a real solution, and as a result, people have continued to die and vehicles have continued to burn.

FCA & What They Knew About Jeep Fires

The wildest thing about all of this? Fiat Chrysler Automobile (FCA)—the company that owns Jeep—knew this was an issue. They knew these rear-tank Jeeps ran the risk of exploding or catching fire after rear impact. And they weren’t alone.

The entire industry had learned this lesson the hard way from the Ford Pinto—a vehicle with a rear gas tank that exploded and caught fire regularly as a result of the placement of the tank.

Suffice it to say, even though FCA (through its corporate predecessors, Chrysler and DaimlerChrysler) knew rear-mounted tanks were dangerous and deadly, they sold them anyway.

Further, Fiat Chrysler Automotive never truly warned consumers about the potential danger of purchasing a vehicle—even when pressured from safety advocates. And while they implemented a ‘recall’ for these vehicles, a true, legitimate recall has never been initiated by Fiat Chrysler Automotive.

The Butler Kahn firm represented multiple families who have lost loved ones in rear-tank Jeep that have caught fire after rear-end collisions. To date, we’re one of the only firms that has forced FCA to trial on this issue and defect.

The result?

A returning verdict that FCA acted with “reckless or wanton disregard for human life,” and that FCA failed to warn of a danger that was known. The jury awarded $150 million. Translation? The jury found that FCA knew that this problem existed, ignored it, and continued to sell dangerous vehicles without intent to keep their customers safe.

FCA’s Alleged Recall & Solution: Why a Trailer Hitch Didn’t Solve the Problem

Fiat Chrysler Automotive eventually felt the pressure from every side. Non-profits, safety advocates, lawyers, victims, the media, and more pressured Fiat Chrysler to correct the defect.

So, FCA issued a ‘recall.’ But that ‘recall’—if you can truly call it one—was issued only for some of the rear-tank Jeeps on the roads and didn’t truly solve any of the problems.

Here’s how that ‘recall’ happened.

In 2013, Sergio Marchionne (chairman and CEO of FCA) had a private meeting with government officials to discuss the recall as a response to a federal investigation into Jeeps with rear gas tanks by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Office of Defects Investigation (ODI).

Marchionne met with the US Secretary of Transportation and the Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. And that’s it—no media, no victims, no lawyers, no engineers. This meeting was not open to the public.

It was a private meeting with no records taken—allegedly.

Ultimately, it was decided that a ‘recall’ would invite Jeep owners to bring their vehicles into a dealership to have a trailer hitch installed for free. Fiat Chrysler told the public that hitches would protect the rear gas tanks during rear-end collisions.

Except, there was a problem—the hitch doesn’t protect the tank.

In fact, this “solution” made things worse. When the hitch would get hit, the chances of it buckling and piercing through the plastic gas tank were increased dramatically. These recall-hitches made the problem worse, not better, and placed people with rear gas tank Jeeps in even more danger.

Present-Day Danger: These Jeeps Are Still on the Road Today

Here’s the unfortunate truth— Fiat Chrysler Automotive still refuses to buy back these old-model Jeeps.

They are still on the road.

Consumers are still naïve or totally oblivious to the danger these Jeeps with rear gas tanks pose.

The worst part? Fiat Chrysler Automotive still vehemently denies that there’s an actual issue with these Jeeps with rear gas tanks—which, as you can imagine, means there’s no plan for a much-needed, critical recall. Fiat Chrysler denies any wrongdoing, despite the fact that consumers have died as a direct result of the design flaw, despite the fact that they refused to warn potential and current Jeep owners about the dangers of these rear-mounted tank vehicles, and despite the fact that a jury has told them these Jeeps are defective.

According to Fiat Chrysler Automotive representatives, these Jeeps are absolutely safe.

Have You Been Affected by Jeep Fires? You’re Not Alone

If you’ve affected by a Jeep fire, know someone who owns a Jeep within the affected model year and make, or have more questions, we encourage you to reach out to Butler Kahn. We’ve worked first-hand with people deeply affected by Fiat Chrysler’s negligence.

It’s vital that you seek help from an attorney who has not only the experience with working similar cases, but also believes in you, believes in ethics, honesty, and producing top-quality legal work for those who deserve it most.

We believe that what Fiat Chrysler Automotive is doing—and failing to remedy—is wrong. We believe that the longer these poorly designed, defective vehicles are still on the road, the longer we put ourselves, the public, and those we care about at risk.

Let us help you seek justice for the wrongful death of your loved ones—contact Butler Kahn at 678-940-1444 or contact us directly on our website through our online chat or email options.

Picture of Matt Kahn
Matt Kahn is an Atlanta personal injury lawyer and a partner at the law firm Butler Kahn. Matt has dedicated his career to fighting for individuals and families who had been harmed by the negligence of others. At Butler Kahn, he has had the honor of helping families who have lost children in motor vehicle accidents and people who were critically injured. He helped a family secure a $45 million settlement to provide lifetime care for their son, who was critically injured in a motorcycle accident. Matt is a graduate of Emory University School of Law and has been recognized as a Super Lawyers’ Rising Star and by Best Lawyers as One to Watch. He has received an Avvo 10.0 Top Attorney rating. Connect with me on LinkedIn



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