Chrysler Recalls 367,000 Vans for Airbag Risk

DETROIT | Wed Dec 15, 2010 1:50pm EST (Reuters) – Chrysler Group LLC is recalling over 367,000 minivans because of the risk that a water leak in the air conditioning system could trigger the airbags, risking injury to passengers. Chrysler said it had received reports of five minor injuries related to the problem. Four of the injuries happened last summer, the automaker said in a filing with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The recall affects 367,350 2008 model year Dodge Caravan and Chrysler Town & Country minivans. The recall is the latest safety setback for the No. 3 U.S. automaker. Chrysler said on Wednesday that it would recall just over 76,000 Dodge Ram trucks to fix a brake-related defect. Chrysler said it had become aware of complaints that water was leaking into the carpet of the vehicles in 2008 and determined then that some of them were built with an improperly installed part in the heating and cooling system. “At the time, Chrysler had no reason to believe that this moisture had any safety consequences,” the automaker said. Chrysler said it only realized that the leak was a safety threat after it investigated a spike in complaints about airbags inflating without warning in the vehicles between July and September of this year. The automaker, which is now operating under the management control of Fiat SpA, said it determined that water was leaking from the floor of the minivans into the system that controls the airbags. Chrysler said it would begin notifying owners of the recall in February. Owners of the minivans are eligible to have a grommet in the air conditioning drainage system replaced at no cost. (Reporting by Kevin Krolicki, editing by Gerald E. McCormick)

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