Dozens of owners claim to have experienced problems with the occupant restraint controller, which manages the front passenger airbag to prevent injuries to children.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has launched an investigation into 2012 Jeep Liberty complaints.

The agency has received at least 44 reports of occupant restraint controller (ORC) failures. Owners report that the airbag warning light remains illuminated, allegedly due to problems with the ORC module that manages the front passenger-side airbag to prevent injuries to children.

"A failed ORC may prevent the air bag system from operating properly in a crash," the NHTSA says.

A few complaints suggest the ORC module was replaced for around $375 to $500 if the vehicle was out of warranty. In many cases, owners apparently opted to ignore the problems rather than pay for a repair.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles issued a recall for the ORC module used in the 2002-2003 Liberty, but not for newer model years. The NHTSA suggests complaints involving other model years "appear to be less frequent."

"A Preliminary Evaluation has been opened to assess the scope, frequency, and safety-related consequence of the alleged defect," the NHTSA says.