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What caused another Jeep Wrangler to catch fire?

Posted: 2:34 AM, Sep 11, 2015
Updated: 2015-09-11 02:34:15-04

From day one, Chrysler backed away from any blame associated with Kim Warner's Jeep fire.

In an August 4th email, a spokesperson blamed the terrain and tire pressure. “The vehicle was driven in heavy sand without reducing tire pressure...failure to reduce the tire pressure in such driving conditions will increase the powertrain's operating temperature.”

Warner showed us pictures of the area where her vehicle caught fire. It is covered with short grass and patches of sand. Her insurance company, Geico, hired its own fire investigator. He spent days combing through the Wranger.

The report’s conclusion found, "....it has been determined that a discharge of transmission fluid at the transmission vent tube ignited by the right catalytic convertor was the contributing factor in the fire."

We went back to Chrysler for a comment. This time the company blamed the fact the Jeep was in 4 wheel drive. A spokesperson wrote “The vehicle was in 4 WD low at time of inspection.  Why?  If she was driving in this condition the transmission would (not could) overheat.” 

Warner maintains the jeep was in four wheel drive for a matter of minutes and her hot oil warning light never came on.

We combed a government data base and found nearly 50 fire-related complaints between 2011 and 2015, some of which started in the engine compartment. Chrysler says it has produced 690,000 Wranglers since 2011. While federal regulators say the fires are on their radar, owners like Warner must rely on insurance to make them whole.

Owners with similar problems should report them to the government at Safercar.gov.