CARS.COM — Part of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's civil penalties on Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, which could amount to $105 million, involve several programs for owners of affected Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and Ram vehicles. If you have an older Jeep Liberty or Grand Cherokee, a late-model Ram or Dodge Dakota pickup truck or a 2009 Chrysler Aspen SUV or 2009 Dodge Durango SUV, this applies to you.
NHTSA's consent order requires FCA to conduct three separate programs, the most significant of which has the company buying back tens of thousands of trucks and SUVs from owners. None of the programs will apply to owners who already got their cars fixed for a fuel system recall on the Jeeps or a suspension or steering system recall on the others.
- The first program is a $100 incentive for all affected owners to get their recalled vehicle fixed.
- The second is a trade-in bonus for most of those vehicles.
- The third is the buyback program for certain Ram and Dodge pickup trucks plus the Chrysler Aspen and Dodge Durango SUV.
On Aug. 31, FCA released more specifics of the programs. We've updated this story to reflect them.
How do I know if my car has been fixed for these specific recalls?
Find your car's vehicle identification number, which is usually etched in the windshield's lower driver's side corner, and enter it into NHTSA's VIN search tool. If your vehicle has an open (that is, unfixed) recall under campaign numbers 13V-038, 13V-252, 13V-527 or 13V-529, then it's eligible for these offers. We strongly suggest you get the recall taken care of as soon as possible.
What cars will get the $100 incentive to have their recalls fixed?
FCA will offer a $100 Visa prepaid card if you did not have your recall completed before July 24, 2015, for the following cars:
- 1993-2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee SUVs. The 1993-98 Grand Cherokee was recalled in 2013 for problems in the fuel system that could cause fires in certain rear-end crashes. The 1999-2004 Grand Cherokee is not under a formal recall, but NHTSA is requiring FCA to extend the $100 gift card offer to owners of those SUVs to have similar repairs made.
- 2002-2007 Jeep Liberty SUVs. These were recalled in 2013 for problems in the fuel system that could cause fires in certain rear-end crashes.
- 2009-2012 Ram 1500 pickup trucks built from Feb. 27, 2008, through June 30, 2009, and Dec. 1, 2009, through Oct. 20, 2011. These were recalled in 2013 for rear suspension problems.
- 2009-2011 Dodge Dakota pickups built from Feb. 27, 2007, through June 30, 2009, and Dec. 1, 2009, through Sept. 30, 2011. These were recalled in 2013 for rear suspension problems.
- 2009 Dodge Durango SUVs built from Jan. 3. 2008, through Dec. 18, 2008. These were recalled in 2013 for rear suspension problems.
- 2009 Chrysler Aspen SUVs built from Jan. 3, 2008, to Dec. 18, 2008. These were recalled in 2013 for rear suspension problems.
- 2008-2012 Ram 4500 and 5500 heavy-duty trucks built from Feb. 20, 2007, through December 2012. These were recalled in 2013 for problems with the steering system.
- 2008-2012 Ram 2500 and 3500 pickups with four-wheel drive, recalled in 2013 for problems with the steering system.
- 2008-2012 Ram 3500 chassis-cab pickups with rear-wheel drive, recalled in 2013 for problems with the steering system.
- 2008 Dodge Ram 1500 Mega Cab pickups with four-wheel drive, recalled in 2013 for problems with the steering system.
You can usually find the build date by month on a sticker around the driver's doorjamb.
Which cars get the trade-in bonus?
All the vehicles listed above except the Liberty are eligible for a trade-in bonus. FCA will offer an extra $2,000 over market value for Ram pickups and $1,000 over market value for the others, which must be used toward the purchase of another FCA vehicle or toward parts or service.
What about existing cash and financing incentives?
The trade-in program is in addition to any existing incentives, which should still be applied to the new car’s final price.
Can I spend the trade-in bonus on a used or certified pre-owned car at the FCA dealership?
No. FCA says the trade-in bonus is only available if you purchase a new car.
Which cars are in the buyback program?
The buyback program applies to the cars with the $100 repair incentive (that is, the full list in the second question) minus the Liberty and Grand Cherokee.
How much will I get for my car in the buyback program?
According to NHTSA, the buyback program requires FCA to give a refund of the purchase price minus depreciation plus an additional 10 percent. The automaker says that beginning Sept. 1, 2015, you can see an estimated value of your vehicle on FCArecall.com that assumes "good" market condition plus 10 percent.
What if I modified my vehicle? Will the modifications be refunded in the buyback program?
Not unless they were on the car when it was new, and you can prove that to FCA. Any modifications made after the vehicle's retail sale won't be calculated into the purchase price, according to NHTSA.
When should I contact a dealer to bring in my vehicle for the repurchase or trade-in bonuses?
FCA says you can do that beginning Oct. 1, 2015. If you have a qualified vehicle that hasn’t had its recall repaired, dealers will arrange for a third-party inspector – not the dealer's trade-in department – to evaluate your car and give you repurchase and trade-in offers. At that point, you can still choose to have the recall repair made to get the $100 gift card.
What if my car is not in good condition?
FCA says if your car is in fair or poor condition, expect it to get less money than FCA's initial website compensation figures. However, it is still eligible for the bonuses. The third-party inspector will determine the amount for your car.
Can I get the repair made and then opt for the repurchase or trade-in offer?
No. If you get the recall repair and take the $100 gift card, you can’t also get the trade-in bonus or repurchase offer. You could always trade in your vehicle anyway, but it wouldn't be eligible for the bonus program.
Will these repurchased cars end up in circulation?
Some will. FCA "may remedy and resell any vehicle repurchased" under the buyback program, according to NHTSA's consent order. The automaker intends to do that for the vehicles it will buy back, FCA spokesman Eric Mayne said. But it won't do so for the cars that got the trade-in bonus because "they are, many of them, over 20 years old," he said. "It doesn't make economic sense to do that."
Can FCA dealers still sell unfixed vehicles?
That's unclear, as it's "subject to regulation," Mayne said. But NHTSA's order requires FCA to "develop and implement a process to deter dealer sales of unremedied vehicles subject to recall." That process must include dealer training and financial penalties from FCA.
When do these programs end?
The trade-in program ends Jan. 4, 2016. As of Aug. 31, 2015, FCA said the $100 gift card and buyback programs had no expiration date.
Need to find a dealer for service?
Go to Cars.com Service & Repair to find your local dealer.