DETROIT -- U.S. auto safety regulators are investigating complaints that the ceilings can catch fire in 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SUVs.
The probe, announced Friday by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, covers an estimated 146,000 of the popular sport utility vehicles.
Three customers complained to the government that their ceilings caught fire near the passenger-side sun visor while they were driving. Initially there was a burning smell, then smoke and flames. The customers lowered their windows to clear the smoke, but that increased the fire’s intensity, NHTSA said in documents posted on its website.
In all three cases, the fires continued after the SUVs had been shut off, and flames had to be put out with fire extinguishers or by firefighters. The flames caused a sunroof to shatter in one instance, while in another, a burning sun visor fell onto the passenger seat and spread the flames, NHTSA said. The safety agency said it had no reports of any injuries.
All three SUVs had to be towed to a dealership for repairs.
Investigators will decide if the problem is serious enough to warrant a recall.
In one of the complaints, a customer told NHTSA that he or she smelled smoke while driving a Grand Cherokee. The driver rolled down the windows, then saw white smoke on the right side of the SUV. "Then the passenger visor melted off the ceiling," the customer wrote. That was followed by a fire in the hole near where the visor had been attached.
The customer said two men used a fire extinguisher to put out the flames, according to the complaint.