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Denial of Motor Vehicle Defect Petition, DP17-002


American Government Topics:  Jeep Patriot

Denial of Motor Vehicle Defect Petition, DP17-002

Jeffrey M. Giuseppe
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
16 May 2018


[Federal Register Volume 83, Number 95 (Wednesday, May 16, 2018)]
[Notices]
[Pages 22743-22744]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2018-10404]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

[Docket No. NHTSA-2018-0052]


Denial of Motor Vehicle Defect Petition, DP17-002

AGENCY: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 
Department of Transportation (DOT).

ACTION: Denial of petition for a defect investigation.

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SUMMARY: This document denies a January 11, 2017, petition, as 
submitted under Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) ID number 
10944318, from Ms. Laura Nagel of Springfield, VA, requesting that the 
agency open an investigation into an alleged defect resulting in engine 
stall without warning after refueling in a model year (MY) 2007 Jeep 
Patriot. The petitioner's vehicle is a 2007 Jeep Patriot. The National 
Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) evaluated the petition by 
analyzing consumer complaints submitted to the Agency, by reviewing two 
prior evaluations of the same apparent defect issue, and by reviewing 
technical and field information provided by FCA US, LLC (FCA) in 
response to an information request letter from the Agency. After 
completing this evaluation, NHTSA has concluded that further 
investigation of the alleged defect in the subject vehicles is unlikely 
to result in a determination that a safety related defect exists. The 
agency accordingly denies the petition.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Dr. Abhijit Sengupta, Office of 
Defects Investigation, NHTSA, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, Washington, DC 
20590. Telephone: (202) 366-4293.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Alleged Defect

    The petitioner alleges that her MY 2007 Jeep Patriot vehicle 
experienced multiple incidents of engine stall without warning shortly 
after refueling. The petitioner discovered that the defective part is a 
valve that is integral to the fuel tank, requiring tank replacement to 
repair the problem. The petitioner alleged that stalling without 
warning is an unreasonable risk to motor vehicle safety and requests 
the agency take action by opening a Preliminary Evaluation to fully 
evaluate the defect.

Engine Stall Defects

    The Safety Act, (Chapter 301 of Title 49 of the United States Code 
(49 U.S.C. 30101 et. seq.)) defines motor vehicle

[[Page 22744]]

safety as ``the performance of a motor vehicle or motor vehicle 
equipment in a way that protects the public against unreasonable risk 
of accidents occurring because of the design, construction, or 
performance of a motor vehicle, and against unreasonable risk of death 
or injury in an accident, and includes nonoperational safety of a motor 
vehicle.'' In this instance, the risk involved is a low speed engine 
stall happening immediately after the fuel tank is overfilled. NHTSA 
considers several factors when assessing the safety risk posed by 
conditions that may result in engine stall while driving. These include 
the speeds at which stalling may occur, the ability of the driver to 
restart the vehicle, the warning available to the driver prior to 
stalling, the effects of engine stall on vehicle controllability, when 
and where the stalling may occur and the effects of the condition on 
other safety systems of the vehicle. In general, conditions that result 
in engine stall during low-speed operation at idle, such as when 
slowing to a stop, and where the engine may be restarted right away, 
are considered by NHTSA to be among the least hazardous types of 
stalling problems and, absent other risk factors, are not considered to 
be unreasonable risks to safety.

Prior ODI Investigation PE13-016

    On February 10, 2014, ODI closed an investigation of an alleged 
defect in approximately 153,817 MY 2006 Chrysler 300, Dodge Charger and 
Dodge Magnum vehicles (LX cars) that may result in engine stall shortly 
after refueling (PE13-016). In response to ODI's information request 
for PE13-016, FCA identified a problem with the multifunction control 
valve (MFCV) fuel shutoff float integrated into 19-gallon fuel tanks in 
certain LX vehicles. According to FCA, the float may swell after 
exposure to fuels with high ethanol content, which may cause the valve 
to stick. A float valve that is stuck open during refueling could 
result in fuel tank overfill and allow raw fuel to enter the purge line 
and vapor canister. This could result in problems with engine 
drivability (e.g., stumble or hesitation) or stall due to a rich fuel 
mixture while driving, in the brief period immediately after filling 
the fuel tank.
    ODI's complaint review showed most of the engine stall incidents 
occurred when vehicles were stopped or travelling at low speeds. This 
review also revealed that no significant difficulty restarting the 
vehicle was reported and no crashes or injuries were identified in the 
subject vehicles, which had been in service for 7 to 8 years. The 
investigation (PE13-016) was closed without a finding of a defect due 
to the low safety risk associated with the alleged defect condition. 
Further details of the investigation are available at https://www.NHTSA.gov.

Prior ODI Petition DP14-002

    In response to ODI's information request letter for DP14-002, FCA 
indicated that the RS Minivan may experience MFCV float sticking 
similar to that investigated in PE13-016 and described above. Further 
details of the investigation are available at https://www.NHTSA.gov.
    As part of its evaluation of DP14-002, NHTSA's Vehicle Research and 
Test Center (VRTC) tested a 2005 Chrysler Town & Country LMT (3.6L SFI, 
20 gal. fuel tank) that was the subject of an ODI complaint (VOQ 
10641603) and proved the vehicle was affected by the sticking in-tank 
fuel valve. VRTC's examination assessed engine performance after 
refueling, including the driving conditions and ease of engine restart 
associated with any observed engine stalls. When refueling the vehicle 
up to the initial shut-off of the filling station pump nozzle, the VRTC 
testing was able to reproduce stalling incidents when the vehicle was 
stopped or coasting to a stop at low speed. The vehicle did not stall 4 
out of 5 times when travelling at 5 mph, but minor hesitation was 
noted. No stalls and only minor hesitation occurred when travelling at 
10 mph or above in tanks filled to the initial nozzle shut-off. 
Stalling was more likely to occur if the tank was overfilled (i.e., 
adding fuel past the initial fill nozzle shutoff). Testing after 
overfilling resulted in stalls in 4 of 5 tests at speeds up to 10 mph. 
Regardless of fill condition, the vehicle could always be immediately 
restarted after each engine stall.

2008 Jeep Patriot Analysis

    In response to ODI's information request letter for DP17-002, FCA 
indicated that the 2007 Jeep Patriot may experience a condition with 
MFCV float sticking similar to the one investigated in the LX Cars in 
PE13-016 and 2007 Chrysler Minivans in DP14-002. As described above in 
PE13-016, the failure mechanism is a result of a swollen refueling 
float within the multifunction control valve. The FCA response also 
indicated no reported accidents or property damage in a fleet of 29,573 
vehicles with more than 4 billion vehicle miles driven over 10 years of 
service. FCA believes that, predicated upon these findings, there is no 
unreasonable risk to motor safety. Further details of the investigation 
will be available in the near future at https://www.NHTSA.gov.
    ODI's complaint analysis of the alleged defect, completed in March 
2017, identified 39 post-refueling engine stall incidents in 
approximately 29,573 vehicles. Similar to the LX Car analysis in PE13-
016, and 2007 Chrysler Minivans analysis in DP14-002, the engine stalls 
occurred immediately after refueling when the vehicle was stopped or 
coasting to a stop at low speed. There were no allegations of 
significant difficulty restarting the engines immediately after the 
stalls occurred. None of the complaints alleged any crash or injury. 
Based upon the above facts and the conditions in which any stall 
occurs, ODI concludes that further investigation is unlikely to result 
in a finding that a defect related to motor vehicle safety exists.

Conclusion

    In the Agency's view, additional investigation is unlikely to 
result in a finding that a defect related to motor vehicle safety 
exists given the limited conditions under which the subject condition 
may result in engine stall. Although NHTSA can and will take action 
before a defect results in a crash, injury or death, the absence of any 
reported crashes or injuries in a fleet of nearly 30,000 vehicles 
estimated to have driven 4 billion vehicle miles indicates that further 
investigation is not warranted under the facts known to the Agency at 
this time. Therefore, in view of the need to allocate and prioritize 
NHTSA's limited resources to best accomplish the agency's safety 
mission, the petition is denied. The Agency will take further action if 
warranted by future circumstances.

    Authority:  49 U.S.C. 30162(d); delegations of authority at CFR 
1.50 and 501.8.

Jeffrey M. Giuseppe,
Associate Administrator for Enforcement.
[FR Doc. 2018-10404 Filed 5-15-18; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 4910-59-P

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