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NHTSA criticizes Fiat Chrysler recalls

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration enforces the federal Safety Act which requires vehicle manufacturers to recall cars that contain a safety defect or which are violating a Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard. This is vital to protect vehicle owners and prevent car accidents in New York and across the nation.

In a July 2 public hearing on recalls of Fiat Chrysler vehicles, NHTSA officials claimed that Fiat Chrysler did not act timely or effectively in 23 recalls involving millions of vehicles. The agency has the power to order actions to improve the manufacturer’s recall performance such as the buy-back or replacement of vehicles.

The NHTSA investigated two recalls for a defective left tie rod assembly that can cause the loss of vehicle control. The agency received hundreds of complaints from owners stating problems with obtaining service appointments. Vehicle owners also stated that they were told that it would be months before their dealer would receive the parts needed to make repairs. A dealer, instead of Fiat Chrysler, informed the NHTSA that the manufacturer suspended recall campaigns and asked dealers to return parts for quality verification. This prevented repair of the defect.

A second investigation concerned the potential for air bags to inadvertently deploy in certain Jeep vehicles. The NHTSA received information that the manufacturer’s attempted remedy of this defect was ineffective and that it received reports of inadvertent air bag deployments after recall repairs were made.

The NHTSA’s third investigation related to a recall of certain Dodge and Jeep vehicles to fix a fire hazard caused by headliner wiring. Even after recall repairs were performed, the NHTSA received reports of fires in these vehicles.

The NHTSA also testified that there were problems in all of the 23 recalls. Fiat Chrysler repeatedly failed to issue timely recall notices, did not provide updates on its timing for issuing recall notices and failed to provide other critical information such as changes to the recalled vehicles subject and proposed remedies. Vehicle owners reportedly had problems obtaining accurate information on issues as simple as whether their vehicles were repaired.

Victims of an auto accident may have a legal cause of action against a negligent driver or in some cases, the manufacturer responsible for defective equipment. Prompt legal assistance should be sought to help obtain compensation for serious injuries and other losses.

Source: nbcnews.com, “Chrysler Could Face Steep Fines for Safety Lapses, Recall Actions,” July 3, 2015

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