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 — small incentives to get qualified vehicles into dealerships, trade-in bonuses for a small number of Jeeps and repurchased vehicles — the most significant of which has the company possibly buying back thousands and thousands of Ram pickups (as well as the 2009 Dodge Durango and Chrysler Aspen). None of the three programs will apply to owners who already had their cars fixed for a fuel system recall on the Jeeps or a suspension or steering system recall on the others.
How do I find out if my pickup is affected?
Find your pickup's vehicle identification number, which is usually etched in the windshield's lower driver's side corner, and enter it onto 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.
You can usually find the build date by month on a sticker around the driver's doorjamb. FCA has 60 days to notify owners of the buyback offer, NHTSA says.
Which pickups are in the buyback program?
Here are the specific vehicles affected and build dates, broken down by weight class and why they were recalled in the first place.
- 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.
- 2009-2012 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.
- 2008 Dodge Ram 1500 Mega Cab pickups with four-wheel drive, 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.
- 2008-2012 Ram 4500 and 5500 commercial pickups built from Feb. 20, 2007, through Dec. 22, 2012. These were recalled in 2013 for problems with the steering system.
How much will I get for my pickup?
According to NHTSA, the buyback program requires FCA to give a refund of the purchase price minus depreciation plus an additional 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. Any modifications made after the vehicle's retail sale won't be calculated into the purchase price, according to NHTSA.
Will these repurchased vehicles 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, said FCA spokesman Eric Mayne. 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.