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Chrysler recalls 919,545 Jeep SUVs on airbag issue

(Reuters) - Chrysler Group LLC is recalling 919,545 Jeep sport utility vehicles from the 2002 to 2004 model years to fix a part that could cause the airbags to inadvertently deploy.

Chrysler is recalling 919,545 Jeep Grand Cherokee and Liberty SUVs from model years 2002 through 2004 because a part in airbag control modules may fail, according to documents filed with the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Chrysler.

A failure of that module could cause the front airbags or side curtain airbags to deploy inadvertently while the SUVs are being operated, increasing the risk of injury or accident, according to NHTSA documents.

Of the vehicles recalled, 744,822 were in the United States; 49,430 in Canada; 21,828 in Mexico; and 103,465 outside North America, Chrysler said.

Chrysler said that about half of the recalled vehicles are Grand Cherokee and the other half Liberty.

Chrysler has been controlled since 2009 by Italy's Fiat SpA.

In October 2011, NHTSA opened a preliminary investigation relating to complaints of inadvertent airbag deployments in Liberty SUVs, according to the documents. In January 2012, the probe was upgraded to an engineering analysis to include the Grand Cherokee SUVs.

The probe found 215 cases of inadvertent airbag deployments that resulted in 81 minor injuries involving both SUVs in the United States, according to the documents. There were no crashes found to have been caused by inadvertent airbag deployment.

Chrysler's dealers will install a supplemental jumper harness to the airbag control module at no cost to owners. The recall is expected to begin in January. (Reporting By Ben Klayman and Bernie Woodall in Detroit; Editing by Gerald E. McCormick and Nick Zieminski)

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