China Orders Fiat to Probe Fire Risk With Jeep Wrangler

Jan 06, 2014 4:36 pm ET

(Updates with Chrysler comment in fourth paragraph.)

Jan. 6 (Bloomberg) -- China ordered Fiat SpA’s Chrysler Group LLC to investigate its Jeep Wrangler, saying the SUV had a “relatively high risk” of catching fire and warned owners not to drive the vehicle under extreme conditions.

Owners of the Jeep Wrangler, which is imported, should check the chassis and engine compartment, and promptly remove any flammable material, the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine said in a statement on its website today. They should contact the manufacturer or authorized after-sales outlet and inform the local inspection agency if they encounter any problems, according to the statement, which didn’t specify how many vehicles were involved.

The agency had stopped imports of the Jeep Wrangler in April 2011 because inspections found fire risks with the gearbox, according to the statement, which was dated Dec. 31. Imports restarted in 2012 after Chrysler replaced the parts and undertook a series of preventive measures, the agency said.

Chrysler said Wrangler owners should follow the instructions in the vehicle’s manual, specifically drivers should clear the underside of the Jeep after extreme off-road driving and not park near dry grass after such driving. The company also suggests owners consult an authorized Jeep dealer before doing any off-road driving.

The company said in a statement it has provided off-road driving education and free underbody cleaning to Wrangler owners since 2011.

China’s warning comes as Fiat prepares to begin production of Jeep vehicles in China. The Italian automaker is nearing a deal with Guangzhou Automobile Group Co. to revive China production after stopping it in 2006, people familiar with the matter said last month. Local production is key for competing in China because imported cars are levied with a 25 percent tariff.

--Tian Ying, with assistance from Mark Clothier in Southfield, Michigan. Editor: Chua Kong Ho, Niamh Ring