NHTSA opens probe into Chrysler’s handling of steering issue recall

Article by Andrew Christian, on October 29, 2014

The United States National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has launched a probe into Chrysler Group's handling of two recalls for possible steering problems in almost 1 million Dodge Ram pickups in the country. According to documents posted online, NHTSA is probing into delays in the availability of replacement parts in two recalls issued in 2013.

The NHTSA is also looking to "poor communications" by Chrysler with the agency. Chrysler, however, reiterated that NHTSA officials has been informed of the progress of the recalls, adding that is cooperating in the safety agency's "audit query" of the process.

Chrysler spokesman Eric Mayne said in an e-mailed statement to Reuters that the carmaker also advised its customers, adding that it has been replenishing its supply of replacement parts. Chrysler issued a three recalls in November 2013 that involves 1.2 million light- and heavy-duty Ram Pickup trucks to inspect them for a possible chassis defect that could cause problems with steering.

Steering tie rods –that might have been misaligned during assembly or service -- could fracture and have to be replaced. The agency launched an investigation into two of the recalls – covering nearly 972,000 of MY2003-2012 model years -- after receiving over 1,000 consumer complaints about delays in getting replacement parts.

On the other hand, this year’s edition of the annual quality survey by Consumer Reports has revealed that five of Fiat Chrysler’s brands were among the bottom seven after receiving the lowest ratings - Ram, Jeep, Dodge, Chrysler and Fiat.

Twenty-eight brands were included in the latest rankings. According to Jake Fisher, director of automotive testing at Consumer Reports, while the U-Connect infotainment system in Chrysler vehicles has improved, it and the carmakers powertrains still received poor ratings from readers.

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