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5:11 pm
Tue June 4, 2013

Chrysler says 'no' to NHTSA recall in rare move

A 2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee
Credit Bull Doser / Wikimedia Commons

In a rare move, Chrysler is saying "no" to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on a recall.

The agency wants the Detroit automaker to recall 2.7 million vehicles.

NHTSA claims a defect increases the risk of fire in rear crashes involving Jeep Grand Cherokees built in the 1993 to 2004 model years  and in Jeep Liberties built in the 2002 to 2007 model years.

Chrysler says the agency's reasoning is deeply flawed and the vehicles are safe.

"Chrysler's push-back is not only rare, but bold," says Michelle Krebs, an analyst with Edmunds.com.  "Ever since the Toyota recalls and congressional hearings that publicly humiliated Toyota and NHTSA for allegedly dragging their feet on recalls -- and they ultimately had to do those recalls -- automakers have been very quick to do recalls when there's been the slightest question."

Chrysler says there's no more risk of a fire in rear crashes in the vehicles targeted by NHTSA than in similar  vehicles made by other companies.  The automaker says NHTSA didn't use the proper comparison vehicles, didn't consult all its own databases, and drew incorrect conclusions.

A spokesman for the company said Chrysler needs to "fight for what we believe in."

NHTSA may order public hearings and if the issue isn't resolved. The U.S. Justice Department will make the final call.

Read more from Edmunds.com on how the vehicle recall process works here.