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Government upgrades investigation into 1997 Grand Cherokee

WASHINGTON, October 23, 2002 Reuters is reporting that the U.S. Federal government announced Tuesday that it is stepping up its investigation into the 1997 Jeep Grand Cherokee because its hood may open unexpectedly while the vehicle is moving.

Nineteen people complained about the problem, but no injuries or accidents were reported.

The investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration covers 262,135 vehicles.

NHTSA began a preliminary inquiry on May 17 that covered the 1996-1998 model years of the Grand Cherokee. The agency found most of the complaints and claims to insurance companies for the problem were for the 1997 model year.

With the upgrade, NHTSA engineers will examine vehicle parts to see if there is a defect. The agency's investigations can lead to a recall, but many are dropped.

A spokeswoman for DaimlerChrysler, Jeep's parent company, said the automaker was not prepared for comment Tuesday.