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Chrysler recalling nearly 189,000 Jeep, Dodge SUVs; faulty fuel pump relay can cause stalling

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DETROIT — Chrysler is recalling almost 189,000 Jeep Grand Cherokees and Dodge Durangos in the U.S. to fix a fuel pump problem that can cause the SUVs to stall.

But a safety advocate says the recall doesn't cover enough models, contending the same problem can happen in millions of other Chrysler, Jeep and Ram vehicles.

The recall, posted Saturday by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, covers some 2011 models with 3.6-liter V6 or 5.7-liter V8 engines. Chrysler says a relay can fail, increasing the risk of a crash, although the company said that as of Aug. 25, it wasn't aware of any crashes or injuries.

The company began looking into the problem in October of 2013 and traced it to a spring that can become deformed because of heat.

The vehicles also might not start, and the fuel pump could keep working even when the engine is shut off. The company says that as of Aug. 25 it's not aware of any crashes or injuries from the problem.

The recall covers SUVs built from Jan. 25, 2010 through July 20, 2011, according to the NHTSA documents.

Dealers will replace the fuel pump relay for free starting Oct. 24.

The Center for Auto Safety, a nonprofit advocacy group founded by Ralph Nader, says the recall is inadequate because more than 5 million other Chrysler vehicles have the same fuel pump power control module as the Grand Cherokee and Durango.

"Chrysler should recall them all," Clarence Ditlow, the center's executive director, said Saturday.

Ditlow's group filed a petition last month asking NHTSA to investigate power system failures in Chrysler vehicles that could cause them to stall while being driven.

In the petition, the group contended that an electrical power control module used by Chrysler in millions of vehicles since 2007 can go haywire, causing them to stall in traffic and cut off devices powered by electricity. The allegation covered Ram pickup trucks, Chrysler and Dodge minivans, the Jeep Grand Cherokee, Dodge Durango and Dodge Journey SUVs, the Jeep Wrangler, and other models.

The safety group says it has received over 70 complaints and that the government has received hundreds.

NHTSA has yet to make a decision on whether to investigate the matter. Chrysler said it is investigating consumer complaints and retrieving components from vehicles in the field for a closer analysis. The company says its vehicles meet all federal safety standards.

The center's petition said that Chrysler's "Totally Integrated Power Module," which includes a computer, relays and fuses, distributes electrical power through the entire vehicle. In addition to stalling, the faulty modules have may have caused air bags not to inflate and fuel pumps to keep running, causing unintended acceleration and fires, the petition said.

Ditlow said the company started phasing them out in 2012, but they remain in the 2014 Jeep Wrangler and the Dodge and Chrysler minivans.

NHTSA also is looking into a New Jersey man's petition filed earlier this month alleging that Chrysler minivans can stall unexpectedly after refueling.

Car owners and advocacy groups can petition the NHTSA asking for investigations that sometimes lead to recalls. The Center for Auto Safety has successfully petitioned NHTSA in the past, including one instance that led to the recent recall of 1.56 million older Jeep SUVs with fuel tanks mounted behind the rear axles. The center contended the tanks can leak fuel and cause fires in a crash, while Chrysler maintains the tanks perform as well as comparable models from other automakers.

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