When consumers decide to purchase or lease a vehicle, that purchase is a sign of trust. The consumer trusts that the reputable vehicle manufacturer has tested the car, truck, or SUV to ensure that it functions properly and that it is not prone to unexpected or undesired operation. Furthermore, the purchaser trusts that if a defect is discovered, that it will be handled promptly and fully. When car and truck manufacturers fail to ensure that their vehicle is safe for driving on the roads and highways, an increased risk of accident and injury is present for the driver and the other vehicle occupants. If the auto manufacturer then denies that a problem exists, fails to devise a timely solution, or fails to supply replacement parts, that defect will linger and increased risk of life-altering injury or death will persist.
If you have been seriously injured or if a loved one has been killed due to a vehicle defective like the Fiat Chrysler Gas tank fire defect, contact the defective product lawyers of Reiff & Bily today. To schedule a free, confidential consultation call (215) 274-0072.
What is the FCA Gas Tank Defect?
The FCA gas tank defect affects an array of popular models produced under FCA’s Jeep brand. Affected vehicles include the Jeep Grand Cherokee model years 1993 through 1998 and 2002 through 2007. These affected vehicles are known to have an increased risk of a vehicle fire when they are struck from behind. When the defect was first recalled by National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) back in 2013, the death toll was believed to be around 50 people. Now, nearly two years into the recall, people are still dying due to this defect.
Chrysler agreed to install a trailer-hitch assembly to protect the gas tank from rear impacts. However safety advocates have long criticized the move as insufficient or as a stall tactic. Chrysler itself has advised motorists to, “remove the ball & ball mount whenever your vehicle is not actually in use of towing.” Many believe that this is because when the NHTSA tested this configuration, it was found to actually increase the risk of a fuel tank puncture. Furthermore, because the hitch is only an assembly, Chrysler’s recall notice also states, “DO NOT attempt to tow with the campaign installed trailer hitch assembly” because “this campaign trailer-hitch assembly does not include the necessary wiring harness and/or other heavy-duty components required for towing.” Individuals who only remember that they received a trailer hitch to “fix” their fuel tank problem may not remember these warnings, use the hitch for towing, and potentially cause a dangerous run-away trailer situation.
NHTSA has Called for an Investigation into FCA’s Slow Recall Repair Times
NHTSA has gone on the record as saying that it is not sufficient to merely identify defects. The administrator of NHTSA states that, “Manufacturers have to fix [the defects].” To that end, NHTSA is investigating consumer complaints on more than 20 FCA recalls, including the gas tank recall. The complaints allege that Chrsyler is taking months or in some cases a year or more to address dangerous and defective vehicles.
While the agency criticized Chrysler back in November 2014 for its abysmal recall completion rates, its recent actions should ratchet up the pressure on the automaker. Through a special order, the regulator required FCA to submit additional documents and information regarding the recall and repair. If FCA failed to cooperate, it would have been subject to daily fines, like Takata.
While NHTSA expressed its displeasure with, “slow competition rates, slow or inadequate notifications to consumers, faulty remedies, improper actions by dealers” and its administrator mused publicly about whether FCA had met its legal obligations, FCA claims that the company was active enough to avoid further investigation or sanctions. In a recent filing the company revealed that it had been late in notifying consumers within the 60 days required by law five times. Furthermore, the automaker revealed that these notification delays ranged from one to 12 days.
In its 18-page response to NHTSA’s special order and the more than 5 million pages of documents filed by FCA, the company regretted the damage done to its reputation and expressed its wishes to regain the trust it had lost. But, the company also challenged NHTSA on the hearing into the company’s slow response times scheduled for July 2, 2015. Despite FCA’s response, NHTSA says that the hearing will be held as planned.
Rely on Our Defective Product Litigation Experience
For more than 34 years, the defective products lawyers of Reiff & Bily have been trusted by Philadelphians and Pennsylvanians injured by dangerous and defective products. When you work with a Reiff & Bily attorney you can rest assured that we will analyze the case from multiple perspectives to make strategic litigation decisions. To see how we may be able to fight for you, call us at (215) 274-0072 or contact us online today.