Jeep is back in the hot seat with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration after a fire broke out inside a 2015 Jeep Cherokee just 36 hours after the customer drove it off the lot. The fiery San Diego-based incident has now sparked a formal investigation with the NHTSA into 50,000 Cherokees.

Reports sent to the agency say the “vehicle was engulfed in flames approximately 20 feet high within seconds of parking the vehicle. The complaint alleged white smoke coming from under the hood immediately after parking the vehicle and while the ignition is off.”

Purchased on Jan. 2 from Perry Chrysler Jeep in National City, California, the Jeep had been driven less than 100 miles when, on Jan. 4, the owner noticed an oil-like smell as she exited the vehicle. As reported by CBS News 8 in San Diego, the owner’s family spotted the brewing fire seconds after the Jeep was parked. Family members tried putting out the flames while fire trucks were en route. The vehicle was a total loss.

Chrysler spokesman Eric Mayne told The Detroit News, "We are aware of this incident and our investigators are cooperating fully with NHTSA’s preliminary evaluation."

This marks the second time a Cherokee owner has had similar issues. A second complaint was submitted Jan 5 after the owner of another 2015 Jeep Cherokee noticed smoke coming from under the hood while driving at 60 mph. That Cherokee only had 45 miles on it.

Click past the jump for more information

Why it matters

Issues of fire breaking out on vehicles with less than 100 miles is a major concern for Chrysler as the issues most definitely relates to a factory or design defect. Chrysler already has a tarnished image with the NHTSA thanks to rupturing fuel tanks on Jeep Liberty and Grand Cherokee vehicles when involved in a rear-end collision and a slow-paced response to the Takata airbag recall.

Until the Cherokee’s issues are worked out, owners might want to park their crossover on the street rather than inside a garage.

Check out CBS News 8 for the video report

2015 Jeep Cherokee

2014 Jeep Cherokee High Resolution Exterior
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The Jeep Cherokee was new for 2014, and in its first year, has sold incredibly well. The two-row crossover offers room for five plus a good amount of cargo. A sharp-looking cabin is completed with high-quality fit and finish, along with a bevy of optional equipment like the 8.4-inch Uconnect infotainment system.

Two engine options are offered: the base 2.4-liter TigerShark MultiAir 2 four-cylinder and the 3.2-liter Pentastar V-6. Both are backed by a nine-speed automatic transmission. Four-wheel-drive is optional and maximum towing is rated at 4,500 pounds with the V-6.

Prices for the Cherokee start just under $23,000 and travel north into the low $30,000 range.

Source: The Detroit News

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