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NHTSA investigates Chrysler ignition switches

The Chrysler Jefferson North Assembly Plant in Detroit, Michigan on May 27, 2014

US auto-safety authorities said Wednesday they are investigating Chrysler vehicles for ignition switch problems that could prevent air bags from deploying.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said it had opened two formal investigations related to the air bag system in certain Chrysler cars.

The NHTSA is already investigating similar ignition-switch problems with General Motors vehicles that are linked to at least 13 deaths.

The agency said that one Chrysler probe is looking to see if there is a safety defect in 2006-2007 Jeep Commanders and 2005-2006 Jeep Grand Cherokees.

The second investigation involves further review of vehicles that already under recall: the Chrysler 2008-2010 Grand Caravan, Town and Country and Dodge Journey vehicles.

Both investigations are looking at airbag design and performance related to the position of the vehicle ignition switch.

The NHTSA said it had received complaints of stalling.

“The investigations involve issues of inadvertent ignition key rotation from the run position to the accessory position,” the NHTSA said.

The NHTSA said it had received complaints of the Chrysler vehicles stalling, but that it was not aware of any related incidents involving airbag non-deployment.

Chrysler is now owned by Italian automaker Fiat, which took full control of the number three US automaker in January.