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2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee probed for fire risk

U.S. safety regulators have opened defect investigations into Chrysler Group LLC's 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee and 2009-2010 Dodge Ram 1500.

The National Highway Traffic Safey Administration said it is investigating potential power steering hose failures that could lead to under-hood fires in about 106,800 2012 Grand Cherokees.

NHTSA also is investing potential rear differential failures that could lead to rear wheel lock-up and loss of vehicle control in about 230,000 2009-2010 Dodge Ram 1500 pickups.

A NHTSA defect investigation is often a prelude to a vehicle safety recall.

NHTSA's Office of Defect Investigation said the power steering hose on the 2012 Grand Cherokee could fail, resulting in power steering fluid leakage in the engine compartment. It said the fluid "may be ignited by hot surfaces in the engine compartment."

In the Dodge Ram investigation, NHTSA said it had received 12 complaints of alleged rear differential failures resulting in rear wheel lock-up, including "one resulting in a crash into a concrete barrier."

Chrysler is an affiliate of Italy's Fiat SpA.

The Dodge Ram pickup is Chrysler's top-selling vehicle this year. The Grand Cherokee is its second-best seller.

The Ram is an important money maker for Chrysler Group LLC. The company sold almost 377,000 of the trucks in 2009 and 2010, but some of those sales were from other model years.

Chrysler spokesman Eric Mayne said any customers who are concerned about their vehicles should visit their dealers. He said the Ram and Grand Cherokee are extensively tested to ensure durability and safety. 

Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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