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NHTSA Investigating 1.3M Jeep Cherokees Over Parking Brake Issue

Customers allege the electronic parking brake can activate while the Jeep is in motion.

2019 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk Elite 4x4
Cherokees from the 2014-2020 model years are part of the investigation.
Manuel Carrillo III/CNET

More than 1.3 million Jeep Cherokee SUVs are the subject of a new National Highway Traffic Safety Administration investigation, according to a filing published last week. NHTSA has received 80 complaints from customers regarding electronic parking brakes that can activate while the Jeep is in motion.

In its official report (PDF), NHTSA said water damage is to blame for these electronic parking brake problems. "It appears the EPB module is damaged by water leaking into the vehicle," NHTSA said. "When the EPB inadvertently activates, it causes a stalling condition bringing the vehicle to a stop."

Interestingly, NHTSA said a previous recall was issued for this same group of Jeep Cherokees due to water leaks affecting the power liftgate. "The liftgate module can potentially catch fire as a result of the water damage," NHTSA said. "Both the liftgate and EPB modules are located in a similar area of the vehicle."

While not yet an official recall, NHTSA said this investigation is designed to "assess the scope, frequency and safety-related consequences of the alleged defect." Should NHTSA decide a recall is warranted, it will issue a separate report.

"We are cooperating with the agency, in accordance with our standard practice," a Stellantis (Jeep's parent company) spokesperson said in a statement.