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Viper exonerated

by David Zatz on

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has ended a probe into 2003-2010 Viper collisions, saying that there was no evidence of a defect.

A probe had been opened on April 26, 2013 after there were two complaints by owners which claimed that the rear suspension knuckle had failed, causing crashes. Chrysler replied to the probe, noting that the parts were used from model years 2003  through 2010, and provided six more reports of failures, two more complaints were sent in after the review was started, with eight crashes claimed to be the result of failures.

Chrysler examined the components, and believed that, based on the condition of the parts and wheel rims, that the knuckles had failed only due to collision forces (had been broken by impact with the wheel in the crashes). NHTSA wrote, “Each of the fracture surfaces examined by Chrysler displayed clean, granular fracture surfaces indicative of single event, overload failure. None of the parts showed any indication of fatigue crack growth.”

The agency itself tested one part, and found no evidence of fatigue in the part, stating that the fracture was due to “a single overload event.” Researchers also noted that all but one incident involved the right knuckles, which is most common for impact failures of this type; the one left-side failure was in a crash with a concrete highway barrier. The crashes also showed no clear patterns of car build range, age, or mileage. 

9,670 Vipers would have been recalled, had there been a finding of fault.

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