A few years ago, the NHTSA hit Fiat Chrysler with a huge fine because so few people have had their cars fixed after they were recalled.
The company isn’t being punished because some people are lazy, or for political reasons. Chrysler has tended to be slow in providing service parts, even as assembly lines run on overtime. Dealer staff and customers have both complained about this, and examples abound.
Loyal customers have called their dealer over and over again, and could not get an appointment. It can take months and months of work to get a recall done. Busy dealers often don’t call customers when the part comes in, either — and someone else may nab it for their own recall.
Just a bit over half of the heavy duty truck tie-rod recalls appear to have been done. That’s unusual, especially for a clearly important problem.
Well, one reason for that — and the dismal rate on the chassis cabs — is because these are work trucks that have to be in service as much as possible. The owners can’t leave a dump truck at the dealership for an unspecified period, maybe a day, maybe six months, and wait for it. Nor can the dealer provide a loaner for a custom-bodied truck (or, usually, any heavy duty truck which won’t come back in quite the same condition.)
One allpar forum member pointed out that GM was recalcitrant in admitting that they had any problems, but quickly took action when they settled. Chrysler quickly to admit problems, often finding them internally, but then was slow to take action. Both got similar financial penalties — but Chrysler had to have an internal monitor, too. At least, unlike Toyota, they didn’t laugh about NHTSA regulators behind their backs — an attitude which cost them a then-record fine.
The author of Dodge Viper, Jeep’s Go-Anywhere Vehicles, and The Rise and Reinvention of Chrysler Minivans, David Zatz has been writing about cars and trucks since the early 1990s; he also writes on organizational development and business at toolpack.info and covers Mac statistics software at macstats.org. His latest book, for kids, is Meet the Jeep.
David has been quoted by the New York Times, the Daily Telegraph, the Detroit News, and USA Today. You can reach him by using our contact form (preferred) or by calling (313) 766-2304.