Security holes in its Uconnect software isn’t Fiat Chrysler’s only issue these days; the automaker has agreed to orders from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to repurchase nearly 500,000 Ram pickup trucks due to major safety concerns. The buyback could cost the automaker billions on top of the $90 million fine from the NHTSA for failing to address these and other safety concerns in a timely fashion.

The safety issues with the Ram pickup line reportedly stem from defective steering and suspension components that could fail, causing the driver to lose control of the vehicle. The effected trucks include certain Ram 1500 models from 2009 to 2012, the 2008 Ram 1500 Mega Cab 4WD, and the Ram 2500, 3500, 4500, and 5500 Heavy Duty with 4WD from 2008 through 2012. On a smaller scale, FCA is also including the 2009 Chrysler Aspen and Dodge Durango, along with the 2009 through 2011 Dodge Dakota in the buyback.

Vehicles will be repurchased at fair market value from customers who choose to participate in the buyback and the necessary repairs completed. FCA can then resell the vehicles. The NHTSA will be monitoring FCA’s progress with the buyback and has the option of issuing another $15 million fine if more violations happen. The oversight will continue for three years by an independent monitor.

Included in the NHTSA’s investigation is FCA’s installation of trailer hitches onto more than 1 million Jeep Liberty and Grand Cherokee SUVs that have their fuel tanks placed between the rear bumper and solid rear axle. At least 75 deaths have been reported due to fire-related rear-end crashes with the two vehicles. The hitches are said to protect the fuel tank from rupturing in such collisions. In total, the fine against FCA covers 23 separate recalls that the NHTSA says were not dealt with on schedule.

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Why it matters

Why?! Massive recalls have littered automotive-related headlines in recent years, but this buyback steals the show in terms of potential money loss for the automaker. While FCA has the chance to resell the repaired vehicles, the initial buyback process could eat a lot of company capital.

This recall and similar ones from several other automakers are shedding light on automakers’ and suppliers’ quality standards. In time, such massive recalls may be a thing of the past as automakers pay closer attention to safety (and now security) issues in new vehicle production. Not only does it save face for the automakers, it saves lives – keeping more people safe from preventable accidents. But apparently it’s not going to happen by itself.

2015 Ram 1500 Rebel

2015 Ram 1500 Rebel - image 610927

Read our full review here.

Source: Automotive News

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