Fiat-Chrysler is having a bad Monday

July 2015 News Trevor Mason Web Exclusive

The next time you wake up after a long weekend dreading to go in to the office, just be glad you're not Fiat-Chrysler. (Corporations are people, right?) This morning, the news broke that the government is fining FCA to the tune of $70 million because of their failure to promptly respond to a series of vehicle recalls. Not only that, but FCA is also being forced to buy back about a half million vehicles from consumers. 

For starters, they dragged their feet responding to Jeep fuel tank fires on 1993-2004 Grand Cherokees and 2002-2007 Libertys. That resulted in a $150 million dollar wrongful death lawsuit. Then, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration singled out three recalls for late-model Ram pickups and Dodge/Chrysler SUVs, one for a bad axle that could lock up and one for broken steering tie rods, and said they violated the Safety Act. According to the NHTSA, Fiat-Chrysler waited too long to act on the problems and fix the vehicles, resulting in them being forced to buy back 578,000 vehicles at a 10% premium. After they fix the vehicles, FCA will be allowed to resell them. 

“Fiat Chrysler’s pattern of poor performance put millions of its customers, and the driving public, at risk,” NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind said in a statement. “This action will provide relief to owners of defective vehicles, will help improve recall performance throughout the auto industry, and gives Fiat Chrysler the opportunity to embrace a proactive safety culture.” 

Apparently most owners of the affected Jeeps have never tried to get the problem fixed, so by simply bringing their vehicles to the dealer, they will receive $100 gift cards from FCA. In addition, the NHTSA is forcing FCA to be at the vanguard of new safety practice regulations and education about recall techniques. It also has to set up a recall website and conduct surveys on customer satisfaction after any subsequent recalls. To accomplish all of this, FCA must spend at least $20 million over the course of three years. 

The quote directly from FCA reads: 

In the consent order, FCA US has agreed to additional remedies for three recall campaigns covering approximately half a million vehicles, primarily 2008 through 2012 chassis cab, 2009 through 2011 light duty and 2008 through 2012 heavy duty Ram Trucks. In each of those campaigns, FCA US will offer to owners whose vehicles have not yet been remedied, as an alternative remedy, to repurchase those vehicles at a price equal to the original purchase price less a reasonable allowance for depreciation plus ten percent. However, customers responding to the recall may continue to keep their vehicles and have them repaired in accordance with the original recall. As of this date, repairs have been completed on well over 60% of the subject vehicles, leaving less than two hundred thousand eligible vehicles. As is expressly provided for under the consent order, FCA intends that any vehicles repurchased will be remedied and resold.  

So what vehicles are eligible for the buy-back? I’m glad you asked. 

  • 2008–2012 Dodge/Ram 1500 pickups (265,000 vehicles)
  • 2008–2012 Dodge/Ram 4500 and 5500 heavy-duty pickups (35,942 vehicles)
  • 2009–2011 Dodge Dakota
  • 2009 Dodge Durango
  • 2009 Chrysler Aspen 

Finally, because of recent Wired report that showed a software vulnerability that would allow a hacker to remotely take control of a vehicle, FCA is recalling another 1.4 million vehicles to fix the problem. Additionally, they are sending out USB drives with the modified firmware that owners will be able to use to fix the security hole themselves—an unconventional method, to be sure. The list of affected models is much longer than the previous list. It includes late-model Ram, Jeep, Dodge, and Chrysler vehicles with the 8.4-inch Uconnect screen: 

  • 2013-2015 Dodge Viper
  • Ram 1500/2500/3500/4500/5500
  • 2014-2015 Jeep Cherokee, Grand Cherokee, and Dodge Durango
  • 2015 Chrysler 200, 300, and Dodge Charger and Challenger 

Like I said, that’s about the worst Monday you could have. If you have any of the affected vehicles, make sure to get in touch with your local dealer to get the problem fixed. If nothing else, you should get a quick $100; who could say no to that?

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