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Chrysler recalls 919,000 older-model Jeep SUVs worldwide to fix air bag problem

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This Feb. 16, 2012 photo shows Jeep logo at the Pittsburgh Auto Show. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Gene J. Puskar

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DETROIT - Chrysler is recalling more than 919,000 older-model Jeep SUVs worldwide, including more than 49,000 in Canada, because the air bags can inflate while people are driving.

The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said Friday that the recall affects Jeep Grand Cherokees from the 2002 through 2004 model years. Also covered are Jeep Libertys from model years 2002 and 2003.

Chrysler Canada says the 49,430 vehicles involved in the recall in Canada are evenly divided between the two models.

In addition to Canada, the recall involves 745,000 SUVs in the U.S. and 22,000 in Mexico. The rest are outside North America.

A part can fail in the air bag control computer, and the front and side air bags can inflate while the SUVs are being driven. An investigation by the safety agency found that the air bags went off 215 times, causing 81 minor injuries.

No crashes were reported.

Chrysler says dashboard warning lights normally come on before the air bags are inflated. If that happens, the driver should contact a Jeep dealer.

Chrysler, which makes Jeeps, will install an electrical harness to fix the problem. The company will begin notifying owners of the recall in January.

In a separate statement on the recall, Chrysler said the fix is aimed at addressing the potential for both inadvertent air bag and pretensioner deployment. Pretensioners tighten seatbelts before an impact.

"Affected vehicles will be fitted with a filter that restores the control module’s intended function — to accommodate proper deployment of air bags and pretensioners," Chrysler said.

The repair will be made at no cost to customers.

— With files from The Canadian Press

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