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Video: Car-wash chain won't clean older Jeep Cherokee models over sudden acceleration fears

Update below: Sometimes it seems like every third Coloradan has an SUV -- and plenty of them are from the Jeep Cherokee family. But if your model of the latter was produced in 2010 or before and you want to give it a scrub, don't take it to one of six Waterway Carwash branches in the metro area -- because the staff there won't lay a brush on it, no matter how much folding green is in your pocket.

Why not? Persistent problems with sudden acceleration, say company representatives. Get details and see photos and videos below.

The story comes to us from 9News, which received reports that owners of older model Jeep Cherokees [and Grand Cherokees -- see update below] were being turned away from local Waterways, including the popular affiliate in Cherry Creek. And sure enough, the company confirms that as of March 1, such vehicles are being pointed back to the street.

The Waterway branch in Cherry Creek.
The Waterway branch in Cherry Creek.

"Waterway has experienced an unacceptable number of dangerous and costly accidents involving pre-2011 Jeep Cherokees," reads a statement provided to 9News. "At Waterway, employee and customer safety is our chief concern. Therefore we have made the decision to stop washing these vehicles."

This is not a new issue. Way back in 2006, the International Carwash Association issued an advisory on Jeep Cherokee models based on sudden-acceleration reports. The document doesn't recommend banning such vehicles, but it does list five procedures to be employed when they're being cleaned for safety reasons:

1. Handle Jeep Cherokees and Jeep Grand Cherokees with extreme caution 2. Allow only specially trained car wash employees to handle these vehicles 3. Notify all car wash employees when one of these vehicles is on the property 4. Move the vehicle using both feet - left foot on the brake and right foot on the accelerator 5. Instruct employees and customers to never walk in front of one of these vehicles

Over the years that followed, reports about sudden acceleration involving Cherokees and Grand Cherokees continued to circulate. A YouTube video posted three years ago and shared below includes a reference to the International Carwash Association advisory and footage of a Jeep cruising through a car wash all by itself.

Here's the video. The car-wash sequence takes place around the thirty-second mark.

Online forums are also crowded with references to the alleged problem -- and this one features several from Colorado.

Continue for more about Jeep Cherokees and sudden acceleration.  

A clip from the Jeep sudden-acceleration video.
A clip from the Jeep sudden-acceleration video.

Here's a post from a driver in La Junta....

i put my 2004 jeep grand cherokee laredo into drive and it suddenly accelerated as witness said like a rocket. i was unable to stop it, hitting fences, gas meter and resting in someones living room. major damage. lucky no one was killed. i just bought the car about 2 weeks ago. i was given a ticket but not arrested yet. still under investigation. car has been impounded, state police removed the black box and my insurance agent was refused access to the jeep

jeep totaled, fence totaled, gas meter busted, house major damage. no injuries.

...and this one from a Denver driver is even more on-point when it comes to car washes:

I took my 2007 Jeep Grand Cherokee to a carwash. As the employee turned the car on to bring it out of the wash and put it in drive, the car accelerated by itself and he dodged people, cars and cleaning materials for 10 seconds before the brakes would work again. We filed a police incident report and my car is at the dealership right now. I will not be driving it again as it is a danger and obviously a lemon.

At the time 9News published its item about sudden acceleration, representatives from Jeep's parent company, Chrysler Group LLC, had not yet responded to questions.

Meanwhile, a dirty Jeep Cherokee or Grand Cherokee made more than three years old isn't Waterway's problem anymore.

Update: Just received a note from a reader who's spent more than two decades in the automobile industry. . She notes that "there is a distinction between the Jeep Cherokee and the Jeep Grand Cherokee. While built off the same platform, they are two distinct models. Production for the Cherokee stopped with model year 2001. Therefore, your comment Jeep Cherokees made on/before 2010 may be confusing to the general population and is incorrect."

She adds that "the Grand Cherokee is still in production," but the advisory includes "both models, not just the Cherokee."

One more thing: "While I will continue using Waterway for my primary vehicle, I'll still lovingly handwash and detail my beloved Cherokee myself."

Here's the 9News report.

More from our Calhoun: Wake-Up Call archive: "Toyota settles with Colorado, other states for stuck accelerators -- and stonewalling officials."


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