Public Hearing to be Held Regarding Chrysler’s Slow Recall Process
In response to what the organization sees as an excessively slow recall process with low repair rates, the NHTSA has announced it will hold a public hearing on July 2 to address whether or not Fiat Chrysler took adequate steps to repair defective vehicles. Chrysler isn’t just facing scrutiny for their response to one recall; the automaker is accused of failing to properly respond to 20 recalls involving about 10 million vehicles. Mark Rosekind of the NHTSA says the organization, “…has concerns about slow completion rates, slow or inadequate notifications to consumers, faulty remedies, improper actions by dealers, and more.
Some of the defects that led to the various recalls include a rear fuel tank that could catch on fire if the vehicle is hit from behind, ignition switches that can slip out of position and turn the engine off, defective airbags manufactured by Takata, and wiring issues in lighted vanity mirrors that can cause a fire. “Each of these defects presents an unreasonable risk to safety and in each case, there is reason to question whether Fiat Chrysler has met its legal obligations,” says Rosekind.
The NHTSA has been at odds with Fiat Chrysler over slow repair rates of recalled cars for several months now. During the summer of 2013, 1.56 million Jeep SUVs were recalled over rear-mounted gas tanks that could explode if the vehicle is hit from behind. The gas tanks were linked to 50 deaths. By November 2014, only 3% of the recalled SUVs were repaired, but that number rose to 21% in the first quarter of 2015. On average, recalled vehicles typically see about a 70% repair rate after two years.
During the public hearing, testimony from Fiat Chrysler, the NHTSA, and the general public will be heard. If the evidence presented during the hearing proves that Fiat Chrysler did not meet their legal obligations regarding the recalls, they could be forced to take further action such as replacing or buying back recalled vehicles. The NHTSA also ordered Fiat Chrysler to provide them with additional information about the 20 recalls by June 1. If they fail to provide the information, Fiat Chrysler could be fined $7,000 per day and up to $35 million.
Many people believe this move is a sign that, under Rosekind’s leadership, the NHTSA will become stricter about enforcing recalls of defective vehicles. In late April 2015, Rosekind told reporters the NHTSA would soon be taking aggressive action to speed up recalls. About the Fiat Chrysler recalls, he said, “…the numbers came out, they’re horribly low. Those translate to lives at risk and more lives have been lost and people hurt. That’s unacceptable.”
To find out if your car is involved in one of the 20 recalls in question, the NHTSA has a list of all the recalls and the makes and models they impact.