US safety regulators have opened a preliminary investigation of about 3-million older Jeep Grand Cherokees with fuel tanks that may present a fire risk in a crash.
The investigation was opened on Monday by the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The action is short of a recall and a Chrysler spokesman said owners of the 1993-2004 model vehicles should take no action now.
Chrysler said it was co-operating with the NHTSA on the investigation. It said the Jeep Grand Cherokees from those model years "met or exceeded" federal safety standards.
In October 2009 the Centre for Auto Safety asked the NHTSA to open an investigation into the vehicles, saying records showed that from 1992 to 2008 the SUVs were involved in 172 fatal fire crashes with 254 deaths.
The centre did not say how many, if any, of the deaths were related to the fuel tanks.