NHTSA answers questions about Fiat Chrysler buyback program – Detroit Free Press
Owners of Dodge SUVs and Ram pickups eager to find out if their vehicle is eligible for a buyback program announced by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles say they are having a difficult time getting information about the program.
“I am just trying to verify if my truck is even affected or not,” said Rob Votodian, owner of a Ram 2500 who called his dealer near Pittsburgh Tuesday morning. “They said the media finds out (about recalls) before they do.”
The buyback program is one component of a consent order that also includes $105 million in civil penalties for the automaker’s lax record of repairs and communication for 23 recalls covering more than 11 million vehicles.
Some of the confusion over the buyback program was caused, in part, by NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind who said a consent order signed by Fiat Chrysler required the automaker to offer repurchase more than half-a-million vehicles because they lack any approved remedy. Later, the agency said that only the owners of vehicles under three specific recalls that have not yet had their vehicle fixed are eligible. Fiat Chrysler says that number is less than 200,000.
To be fair, the automaker has had little time to inform its dealers or even develop the buyback program. Three of the automakers top executives signed a complicated, 37-page legal agreement with NHTSA on Friday, and the buyback program barely fills a half-page of the agreement.
Few others inside the company knew anything about the deal until Monday morning. That means the automaker’s marketing staff was unable to even begin developing the program or telling dealers about it until it was announced.
Because of the intense interest, the Free Press asked NHTSA also provided answers to seven key questions about the buyback program:
Question: How does this program work? In other words, should owners call dealers or should they wait for a notice in the mail telling them they are eligible?
Answer. The consent order requires FCA to notify affected owners within 60 days, during which time NHTSA expects FCA will develop detailed procedures for meeting its obligations.
Q: Will the owners receive a check from FCA for the vehicle? Or, how exactly will the payment be made?
A. That’s a question better directed to FCA, but FCA is required to pay owners for their vehicles.
Q. Can then then use that money to buy any vehicle from any automaker/dealer?
A. FCA is required to pay vehicle owners for their vehicles; owners will have no restrictions on how they use that money.
Q. How, exactly, is the value of the vehicle to be determined?
A. The consent order requires FCA to “refund the purchase price paid by the first purchaser of the vehicle for purposes other than resale, less a reasonable allowance for depreciation, and not including the cost of modifications made to the vehicle after the first retail sale. FCA US will additionally offer a premium of 10% above the purchase price to any owner of an unremedied vehicle.
Q. Where can owners go to get more information about the buyback program?
A. FCA will provide additional information when it notifies eligible owners. In addition, owners with questions can go to safercar.gov/rs/chrysler/, where they can read the consent order and see other information about NHTSA’s enforcement action. We plan to post a Frequently Asked Questions document on that page shortly.
Q. If their vehicle has already been fixed under the recall in question, are they still eligible for the buyback program?
A. Unremedied vehicles are eligible for buybacks.
Q. FCA says there is already an approved remedy for all three recalls that are part of the buyback program. If there is already an approved remedy, why is NHTSA requiring the automaker to conduct a buyback program?
A. As NHTSA outlined in its July 2 hearing, NHTSA has continually received complaints from vehicle owners that they have attempted to receive a remedy, only to be told by dealers that parts are not available….NHTSA has complaints as recent as May 2015, more than two years after the recall was issued, that parts are still not available…., NHTSA is authorized to order the manufacturer to buy back those vehicles, and the agency is using that authority in this case.
Contact Brent Snavely: 313-222-6512 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @BrentSnavely.
The buy back program applies to the following vehicles if they have not yet been repaired:
278,229 vehicles recalled on February 6, 2013 because of a defect that may cause the axle to lock including the:
2009 model year Chrysler Aspen
2009 model year Dodge Durango
2009-2012 model years Dodge Ram 1500
2009-2011 model years Dodge Dakota
36,710 vehicles recalled on November 6, 2013 because of a defect that may cause the driver to lose steering power and crash:
2008-2012 model years Dodge Ram 4500
2008-2012 model years Dodge Ram 5500
265,057 vehicles recalled on November 6, 2013, to repair and replace steering linkages that may cause the driver to lose steering power and crash:
2008 model year Dodge Ram 1500
2008-2012 model years Dodge Ram 2500
2008-2012 model years Dodge Ram 3500