As reported today in the Chicago Tribune, Fiat Chrysler announced this week the details of the biggest vehicle buyback program in history, which was imposed on the company after a federal investigation into its track record of horrendous Chrysler recall completion rates lead to a $105 million civil penalty. The buyback program involves three of the recent Chrysler recalls and includes cash plus potential incentives of $1,000 to $2,000 for certain vehicle owners who decide to buy a Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge or Fiat to replace their recalled vehicle.
Vehicles Covered by the Buyback Program
The buyback program covers Ram pickups and Dodge SUVs initially recalled in 2013 because they can lose power steering while in motion or have axle problems. Details of the Ram pickup and Dodge SUV buyback program include:
Starting Oct. 1, customers can contact dealers to arrange for vehicle inspections. Dealers will then call a third-party administrator to complete the inspection and present a final offer to customers, who then have three options:
Opt for the recall repair and receive a $100 Visa Prepaid Card for unrestricted use.
Accept the repurchase offer.
Opt for the trade-in incentive, which is available through Jan. 4, 2016.
Ram pickups and Dodge SUVs that have already been repaired are not eligible for the repurchase program.
Fiat Chrysler also announced new incentives for owners of 1993-98 Jeep Grand Cherokee and 2002-07 Jeep Liberty SUVs that were recalled, but not yet repaired, as of July 24.
Those vehicle owners can either:
Receive a $100 Visa Prepaid Card for after their Jeep is repaired.
Trade in the vehicle and receive a $1,000 incentive toward the purchase of a new vehicle, or a $1,000 Visa Prepaid Card usable for parts or service at the FCA US dealership accepting the trade-in.
The automaker said it has started to mail notices to all of the eligible owners who qualify for the buyback program as well as those who qualify for the Jeep SUV recall and repair incentives.
Finally, Fiat Chrysler announced incentives for owners of 1993-98 Jeep Grand Cherokee and 2002-07 Jeep Liberty SUVs that were recalled, buut not yet repaired as of July 24, 2015. Owner of those vehicles can either:
Receive a $100 Visa Prepaid Card after their Jeep is repaired; or
Trade in the vehicle and receive a $1,000 incentive toward the purchase of a new vehicle, or a $1,000 Visa Prepaid Card usable for parts or service at the FAC US dealership accepting the trade-in.
Warning to Owners Whose Vehicle Has Been Involved in a Catastrophic Crash
The defects leading to some of these Chrysler recalls can cause terrible automobile crashes, which result in catastrophic injuries. For example some Jeeps were recalled because, due to an ignition switch/electrical system defect, they may experience an unintended change in ignition switch position resulting in loss of engine power, power steering, and braking. Operating a vehicle without these features can obviously result in a bad crash. Unfortunately, the defect may also disable the airbags, resulting in worse injuries to the occupants.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a crash involving Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, or Fiat vehicle and believe that loss of engine, steering, or brake power was a cause of the crash or that loss of airbags resulted in worse injuries, you need to preserve the vehicle for your lawsuit. Do not agree to sell the vehicle to any insurance company, dealer, or to Chrysler until you have consulted with a competent product liability attorney. Your attorney should consult with an expert capable of downloading the “black box” data concerning the airbags and engine power.
Phelan Petty is investigating Fiat Chrysler ignition switch cases.