Fiat Chrysler Automobiles U.S. LLC, which produces the Ram truck brand, is to pay a record-high settlement of up to $105 million in civil penalties to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and others for allegedly mishandling 23 recalls of some 11 million vehicles.
Terms of the settlement state that FCA must also offer to buy back more than 500,000 Ram and other trucks that were recalled in 2013 for faulty tie-rod assemblies and rear-axle pinion nuts. However, FCA claims that more than 60% of those vehicles, which include 2008-2012 chassis cab, 2009-11 light duty and 2008-2012 heavy-duty Ram trucks, have already been repaired.
"In each of those campaigns, FCA US will offer to owners whose vehicles have not yet been remedied, as an alternative remedy, to repurchase those vehicles at a price equal to the original purchase price less a reasonable allowance for depreciation plus 10%," the company noted on July 27. "Customers responding to the recall may continue to keep their vehicles and have them repaired in accordance with the original recall," it added.
Three days before the July 26 settlement, FCA recalled 1.4 million vehicles including 2014-15 Ram trucks for software risks that could allow a remote party to gain access to a telematics-equipped vehicle. FCA says it is mailing free USB drives containing a software update to owners of those vehicles.
FCA this past month also opened recall campaigns for more than 660,000 model 2013-15 Ram trucks with overly-sensitive side air bags that may deploy suddenly—when the side doors are slammed shut, for example—and more than 1 million 2012-14 Ram trucks whose steering wheel wiring harnesses may rub against the air-bag module retainer spring, causing an electrical short and deployment of the driver's side air bag without warning.