The U. S. government has slapped Fiat Chrysler with a record $105 million fine, the largest in U.S. history, citing the company for misconduct in “23 recalls covering more than 11 million vehicles” with dangerous defects. The fines including the buy-backs and trade-ins could cost the company more than $1 billion.
The National Highway Transportation Administration (NHTSA) has ordered Fiat Chrysler to buy back certain models of Ram pick-up trucks – the company’s most popular vehicle – and several models of Dodge Durangos, Dodge Dakota pickups, and Chrysler Aspens at “fair market value” if they have not been repaired since they were recalled in2013. The vehicles have a serious defect that can cause drivers to lose control.
They include: Ram 1500 pick-up trucks built between 2008 and 2009, “and the 2500, 3500, 4500 and 5500 models” built between 2008 and 2012. The NHTSA settlement with Fiat Chrysler Fiat orders the auto company to buy back “more than a half a million Ram pickup trucks” from those model years. The auto company must repurchase the vehicles for their original purchase price minus depreciation. NHTSA has hired an “an independent monitor” to supervise the buy-back and trade-in programs for the next three years.
Other vehicles Owners of Jeep Grand Cherokees, built between 1993 and 1998, have faulty rear fuel tanks that can explode if they are rear-ended. The defect has been linked to more than 75 deaths. NHTSA has ordered Fiat Chrysler to give owners a $1,000 credit on a trade in for a new car if their vehicle has not been repaired. The Grand Cherokees were originally recalled in 2013.
Owners of certain models of Jeep Liberty models built between 2002 and 2007 also have faulty fuel tanks and are eligible for the trade-in program.
Jeep Grand Cherokee and Jeep Liberty owners who do not want to sell back their cars, are eligible for a $100 gift card that can be used anywhere when they bring the cars in for repairs. Several websites can help owners of the affected vehicles determine which programs cover their cars:
- A Fiat Chrysler website can check by VIN number: http://recalls.mopar.com/
- A NHTSA website has information about the buy back and trade in programs: http://www.safercar.gov/
Owners of the affected Fiat Chrysler vehicles should immediately make plans to sell their cars back, trade them in or have them repaired. The danger is real. Children in car seats have burned to death when Jeep Grand Cherokee fuel tanks exploded after a rear end collision. Jeep Liberty drivers have burned to death. The mother of a 32 year-old woman, whose 2004 Jeep Liberty burst into flames after a rear end collision, has sued Fiat Chrysler. Others have sued the company for a design flaw dubbed “the death wobble” in Ram Pickup steering components that cause drivers to lose control. Anyone injured in a wreck caused by a defect in these recalled Fiat Chrysler autos should call Wayne Wright immediately.