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Chrysler Recalling 100,000 Jeep Grand Cherokees Because of Potential for Fires Under Hood

September 16, 2006; WASHINGTON Ken Thomas writing for the AP reported that DaimlerChrysler AG's Chrysler Group said Friday it would recall more than 100,000 Jeep Grand Cherokee sport utility vehicles because water contamination of the transmission fluid could lead to fires under the hood.

The recall involves 2005 model year vehicles with 3.7 liter engines and automatic transmissions, the automaker said, accounting for about 45 percent of all Jeep Grand Cherokees sold from that year.

DaimlerChrysler spokesman Max Gates said in a small number of vehicles, condensed water from the air conditioning system could drip down into the case that holds the transmission fluid, contaminating the fluid and leading to a shaking in the transmission.

Gates said if owners fail to address the shaking, the transmission would operate at higher temperatures and could boil the water in the transmission fluid and eject some of the fluid.

The fluid could come into contact with a hot part of the exhaust system and cause an engine fire, he said.

The automaker told the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that it received four reports of fires in the vehicles from Dollar Rent a Car. Two of the fires happened in Hawaii and the other two took place in California and Washington state, prompting the company to investigate.

Less than 1 percent of the vehicle's owners have filed warranty claims citing the problem, Gates said. In its filing with NHTSA, DaimlerChrysler estimated that less than 5 percent had the potential problem.

Gates said all owners will be notified of the recall in October. But if motorists experience the tremor in the transmission, they should have it inspected by a dealer.

"If you're experiencing this shudder at all -- this shaking of the transmission -- you should get it checked out," Gates said.