Federal regulators have expressed deep concern about the slow pace of repairs for vehicle defect recalls issued by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.
According to a report in the Detroit Free Press, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) will hold a hearing July 2 to question Fiat Chrysler about the reason behind the slow response.
Officials say each of the safety defects for which Chrysler vehicles were recalled presents an unreasonable risk to safety and in each case, there is reason to question if Fiat Chrysler has met its legal obligations.
The hearing, which is unusual, will include witnesses from NHTSA, Chrysler and the public. Fiat Chrysler is being criticized for its response in about 20 recalls that cover about 10 million vehicles.
A similar hearing was held in 2012 when NHTSA questioned Wildfire Motors with regard to whether it did its part to recall and fix motorcycle brakes.
Chrysler has had a rocky relationship with federal regulators. In 2013, Fiat Chrysler refused to recall 2.7 million Jeep SUVs linked to more than 50 deaths in rear vehicle collisions.
The automaker later agreed to recall 1.6 million Jeeps. NHTSA has now issued a special order demanding that the automaker provide additional information about its recall performance on each of the 20 recalls by June 1.
Also, the company could be fined up to $7,000 per day if it fails to respond. The automaker has said that its average repair completion rate for recalls exceeds the industry average.
If NHTSA determines based on the hearing that the company did not meet its legal obligations, the agency could force the automaker to take further action including the buy-back or replacement of the affected vehicles.
Auto Product Liability Issues
Not completing timely repairs on recalled vehicles can be extremely dangerous. The Jeep vehicles in question were recalled because they were at risk of exploding into flames in rear-end collisions.
These are serious safety defects that could result in catastrophic or permanent injury or even death.
As auto product liability attorneys who represent the rights of victims of defective products, we urge federal regulators to ensure that Chrysler has met all of its legal obligations to consumers.
Not repairing recalled vehicles promptly puts vehicle owners and their families in grave danger.