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NHTSA Announces Investigation After Reports Of SUV Fires Raise Concern

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A recent frightening automotive defect was revealed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration when it announced that it had launched an investigation into reports that Jeep Liberty SUVs have caught on fire, endangering the lives of the vehicle’s occupants.

According to the NHTSA’s statement, the agency has received multiple reports of fires starting in the driver’s side doors of 2012 Jeep Libertys. The NHTSA says that drivers reported noticing smoke coming from the door and soon thereafter actual flames emerged from the doorway.

The smoke and flames led to other problems, including malfunctioning power door and window locks. Disturbingly, drivers say that the windows and door locks began operating on their own, creating an overall sense that the car had developed a deadly mind of its own.

Thankfully, safety investigators say that in the reports they have received thus far drivers have been able to stop their cars and escape through passenger doors. In one especially alarming case, one owner said that he suffered through the same problem twice, with smoke and flames erupting from the driver’s door after Chrysler had already repaired it.

Though the case with Chrysler is an unusual and scary example of an auto recall, it isn’t rare. A recent report published by Automotive News revealed that automakers are now issuing recalls at increasingly rapid rates. So far this year 143 auto recalls have been announced out of just 273 days, meaning that recalls are coming practically every other day.

Not only are the recalls frequent, they impact millions of vehicles. So far this year announced recalls have affected 18.5 million cars and trucks, more than the number of new vehicles sold across the United States this year. Experts say that the increase in recalls has to do with increased vigilance by regulators who are increasingly investigating and demanding action from automakers that are responsible for selling cars with dangerous defects. Additionally, increased technology in cars has led to more problems given how much more complex certain mechanical and computer systems have become.

Though it’s good to hear that companies are attempting to fix their mistakes, the best-case scenario would be if the problematic vehicles never made it out of the factories. That’s because even in cases where defects are discovered, multiple people have to first be injured or killed before the regulatory process kicks into gear, a terrible price to pay for the families of those impacted.