NHTSA steps up investigation into Jeep Liberty

January 31, 2012 12:00 AM

Nearly 400,000 Jeep Liberty SUVs are currently being investigated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) after reports that the airbags deployed suddenly and without warning in the vehicles, reports The Detroit News.

The inadvertent airbag problem reportedly affects Liberty vehicles made in 2002 and 2003. The NHTSA initially began probing the vehicles months ago, but stepped up its investigation recently after uncovering more reports about the problem.

The safety agency says it has received 87 reports in total, resulting in 50 injuries. The injuries were mainly minor burns, cuts and bruises to the upper body, and fortunately nobody was seriously injured.

Investigators are still looking for the exact cause of the issue, as it seems like no two drivers had it happen exactly the same way. About half say that only the driver's side airbag deployed, while the other half had both bags inflate. Some claimed to have noticed the airbag warning light beforehand, while others say it never lit up. Finally, the incidents occurred both while the vehicle was stopped and in motion.

"We are cooperating fully with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration with this engineering analysis on 2002-2003 Jeep Liberty models to determine the root cause of this condition," said Chrysler spokesman Vince Muniga.

Drivers who want to catch potential problems in their vehicle before they become a major issue should keep up with their auto maintenance.

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