Chrysler responds to Waterway Carwash ban on Jeep Cherokees & Grand Cherokees

10:08 PM, Mar 6, 2013   |    comments
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KUSA - A car wash chain in Denver is turning away owners of a particular type of vehicle.

Viewers told 9NEWS that people driving Jeep Grand Cherokees - model year 2010 or older - were not being allowed to go through the half-dozen Waterway car washes in our area.

Sure enough, it's true. Reports of sudden acceleration by Jeeps at car washes are all over the internet.

A Waterway spokesperson said the national chain banned them after experiencing dangerous and costly incidents.

Waterway spokesperson Mike Schlote issued the following statement:
"Waterway has experienced an unacceptable number of dangerous and costly accidents involving pre 2011 Jeep Cherokees and Grand Cherokees. At Waterway, employee and customer safety is our chief concern. Therefore we have made the decision to stop washing these vehicles."
Michael Palese, spokesperson for Chrysler Group LLC, says sudden acceleration incidents have occurred in other auto manufacturer's vehicles. He says Waterway is unfairly singling out Jeeps.
"Actually this is an urban legend that was started up by the carwash association," Palese said. "The International Carwash Association, some years ago, had it in their head that there was a problem with Jeep vehicles - and actually went on a little bit of a campaign trying to make this reputation stick."
"We do provide recommendations regularly about this topic of sudden acceleration," ICA spokesperson Eric Wulf explained. "There was a time when our recommendations did speak to Jeep. But we have since restated them to be non-specific because these incidents can happen in other types of vehicles."

Palese says he believes car wash environments can lead to sudden acceleration incidents.

"Anyone who has been through a car wash knows that it's a very frenetic, very distracting environment. You've got employees who are hopping into the front seats of cars - squeegee bottles in their pockets - and rags in their hand, multi-tasking," Palese said. "Sometimes people get in the vehicle and they think that they're stepping on the brake, when they're in fact stepping on the gas."

"We think it's important that the car wash operators not absolve themselves of responsibility here," Palese said. "I think it's easy to blame the vehicle. In reality, what we have here is human error."

Palese says he believes dangerous incidents can be avoided through good training and development of car wash employees.

Schlote declined 9NEWS' request for an interview, but stands by his company's decision.

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(KUSA-TV © 2013 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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