Fiat Chrysler’s slow moving, dangerously ineffective recall finally prompted the Department of Transportation to lay the smack down with a $70 million fine and millions more in other penalties, including an agreement to buy back 200,000 Ram pickups and offer $1,000 extra on certain trade-ins.

The full government action against Fiat Chrysler stems from a couple of big issues that they’ve yet to resolve, including gas tanks behind the rear axle of Jeeps that sometimes results in fires, and steering issues with Ram trucks that have undergone three unsuccessful recall repairs. Fiat Chrysler and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration settled after putting more and more pressure on the company.

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“Today’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,” said Transportation Secretary Foxx. “This civil penalty puts manufacturers on notice that the Department will act when they do not take their obligations to repair safety defects seriously.”

For Jeep owners, if you’ve got the Liberty or Commander and you haven’t gotten it fixed you can get $1,000 on top of your vehicle for a trade in (and if you own a Liberty you should take it) or a $100 gift card to get your Jeep fixed. Hey, get a Cherokee, it’ll make FCA that much richer.

If you’ve got one of the impacted Rams they’ll give you the full value of your vehicle.

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There are various estimates of how many vehicles Ram could have to buy back, with some saying 500,000, but that would include all of the Rams sold and this only applies to un-repaired vehicles. Chrysler says there’s fewer. KBB says it’s about 180,000 and estimates that the cost to Ram would be near $900,000.

Either way, not a great look for Chrysler, who also has to accept oversight from a third party approved by NHTSA.


Contact the author at matt@jalopnik.com.