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Here are the models Fiat Chrysler will buy back from customers

International Business Times logo International Business Times 7/27/2015 Angelo Young
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As part of the record-setting $105 million settlement with U.S. regulators over recall lapses, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) NV says it will buy back hundreds of thousands of trucks and SUVs for steering and axle problems. Owners of affected vehicles, which have potentially dangerous steering and axle problems, have complained of months-long waiting lists because of parts supply shortages.

FCA, “has entered into a consent order with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) which resolves the issues raised by NHTSA with respect to FCA US’s execution of 23 recall campaigns,” the company said in a statement Sunday announcing the agreement.

In additional to a $70 million punitive fine, the company agreed to spend $20 million to improve safety efforts and $15 million more if the company doesn’t comply with NHTSA demands in a proper fashion. The company has also agreed to use an independent safety monitor for at least three years.

Some of the $20 million will be spent buying back a number of trucks and SUVs, offering $100 gift cards to qualified Jeep owners for getting their vehicles fixed, and extending a $1,000 bonuses on trade-ins of certain Jeep Grand Cherokees.

Dodge Dakota © Provided by IBT US Dodge Dakota

The NHTSA gave the company a “reasonable allowance for depreciation,” on the price they’re willing to pay for nearly 579,000 affected vehicles. The following vehicles are eligible for the buyback program:

* 2008 to 2012 model-year Ram pickup trucks that have either steering problems or axle problems, or both.

* 2008 to 2012 Ram 4500 and 5500 super duty pickup trucks (about nearly 36,000) for steering problems;

* 2009 to 2011 Dodge Dakota trucks for axle problems;

* 2009 Dodge Durango and Chrysler Aspen SUVs for axle problem.

Jeep Grand Cherokee © Provided by IBT US Jeep Grand Cherokee The 1998 Jeep Grand Cherokee is one of the cars whose gas tank is locate behind the rear axle, a design issue that most automakers fix by putting the gas tank in front of the rear axle to protect from rear-end collision fires.  FCA

Fiat Chrysler will also offer $1,000 on trade-ins of 1993 to 1998 model-year Jeep Grand Cherokees. Owners can also apply the money to service on other FCA vehicles they might own. FCA says more than 1 million Jeeps need to be fixed for a fire risk linked to the position of the vehicle’s gas tank. NHTSA and Fiat Chrysler have clashed for years over the gas-tank issue affecting 2.7 million Jeeps.

More than 70 people have been killed in fires involving rear-end collisions in these older Jeeps. FCA is facing dozens of lawsuits over the fires. In April, a Georgia jury awarded $150 million to the family of Remington Walden, 4, who burned to death in a rear-ended 1999 Jeep Grand Cherokee. FCA is fighting the verdict and says it’s willing to pay $4 million for wrongful death and $1 million for pain and suffering, according to the Atlanta-based Daily Report.

Gas tank position © Provided by IBT US Gas tank position These are vehicle dummies used by auto safety experts. The top image shows the position of the Jeep Grand Cherokee's gas tank compared to a more conventional tank position in comparable SUVs, like the Chevy Blazer.  Byron Bloch, autosafetyexpert.com

Auto safety experts have criticized what FCA has handled Jeep recall. Fiat Chrysler says it will install a trailer hitch to the back of the Jeeps, which the company and regulators have said would guard the gas tank from being punctured in a fire in low-speed impacts. But some have questioned the remedy.

“It’s going to be a spear. It is going to go through people’s vehicles,” Ron Melancon, who tracks accidents caused by trailer hitches at dangeroustrailers.org, told the Detroit Free Press in 2013.

FCA owns several automotive brands, including Fiat, Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge and Ram. FCA was formed early last year after Italian automaker Fiat SpA CEO Sergio Marchionne rescued Chrysler in 2009 in a deal orchestrated by the Canadian and U.S. governments. Last year the company completed its acquisition of union-held portion of Chrysler, which allowed a merger forming a new Netherlands-registered company. The U.S. taxpayer spent $1.29 billion bailing out Chrysler.

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