Ram Tie-Rod Recall Is Too Slow For NHTSA

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Nearly a year ago, Ram (aka Fiat Chrysler America) recalled 1.2 million trucks for a tie rod failure issue. The concern was that tie-rods were misaligned either in manufacture or during a service, and that this misalignment could lead to a loss of steering control.

Tie Rod

While it’s not uncommon for vehicle recalls to take months to complete, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is looking into the speed of this recall (or more precisely, lack of speed) and threatening Ram with sanctions if they don’t get moving.

Ram Can’t Make Enough Tie Rods?

Allegedly, Ram’s slow tie-rod recall is mostly about parts delays. Consumers are trying to get their recall repair completed, but learning that parts won’t be available for several weeks and/or months.

The thing is, recalls take a while. After a recall is announced:

  1. The automaker has to come up with a fix. Sometimes fixes are obvious and take a couple days to work out, sometimes they’re much longer.
  2. Once there’s a “fix”, the automaker will likely want NHTSA to sign off on the fix.
  3. Automakers must then send out owner notifications, a process that takes weeks.
  4. Automakers need to order new parts, which isn’t always as simple as it sounds…tooling can take a few months if it’s a new part.
  5. Even if there’s no need to create new tooling, the companies that actually manufacturer parts don’t exactly have empty facilities sitting around waiting to spring into action. They need to run overtime, re-negotiate production schedules for other parts, etc. to find the time to build parts.
  6. Once the part production starts, you’ve got to send the parts out to dealers, get the dealers scheduling repairs, etc.

It’s easy to see how a completing a recall can take months (or even years). While Ram’s delays aren’t exactly “business as usual” (NHTSA is supposedly investigating “poor communication” as much as anything), it’s easy to understand how they might be delayed.

However, item #5 (lack of available production facilities) probably tells us all we need to know about Ram’s slow recall.

Ram is selling trucks as fast as they can build them right now. Ram sales were up a whopping 33% last month, and while we can argue about why Ram sales were up (is it that they have a great product, or is it that they have great big cash incentives?), there’s no denying that Ram’s suppliers are probably struggling to produce parts for new Rams, let alone recalled Rams.

It says here that Ram is dragging their feet with tie-rod production, likely because they don’t want to slow down new Ram sales. While the wisdom of this decision is very much debatable, at least we understand why this is probably happening.

Filed Under: Auto News


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