Fiat Chrysler has been ordered to buy back close to 200,000 Ram pickup trucks and Dodge SUVs as part of a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration investigation charging that the auto giant failed to remedy problems with the vehicles during a 2013 recall.
The buyback program is part of $105 million in civil penalties the NHTSA levied against Fiat Chrysler for what it called its "lax repair and recall completion rate" in 23 recalls that involved more than 11 million vehicles, the Detroit Free Press reported
. The punishment is the largest civil penalty every dished out by the safety administration.
WDIV-TV reported that the pickup trucks
, the company's best seller, have defective steering components that can cause drivers to lose control. Owners will have the option of accepting the buyback or getting the vehicle repaired.
CNN Money stated that the 2009 Dodge Durango
, the Dodge Dakota models 2009-2011, and the 2009 Chrysler Aspen also fall into the buyback plan.
"Those models were recalled two years ago for steering issues or loose rear axles," CNN Money noted. "Either problem could cause the driver to lose control of the vehicle. To make matters worse, Chrysler didn't make enough replacement parts or failed to provide 'effective' parts after the initial recall, said Gordon Trowbridge, spokesman for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration."
Along with the buybacks, WDIV-TV stated customers will able allowed to trade in more than a million Jeeps for more than market value because of vulnerable rear-mounted gas tanks. The television station wrote that at least 75 people have died in crash-related fires.
"[Sunday's] action holds Fiat Chrysler accountable for its past failures, pushes them to get unsafe vehicles repaired or off the roads and takes concrete steps to keep Americans safer going forward," U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in the statement, according to WDIV-TV.
The NHTSA detailed many of Fiat Chrysler's past failings during a July 2 hearing, including failing to notify customers of recalls, putting off making and distributing repair parts, and, in some cases, failing to do repairs needed to fix problems.
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