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.
Admittedly, I’m not a Chrysler fan. The worst vehicle I ever owned was a Dodge Dakota, and that single vehicle turned me from a Dodge fan to a giant critic of the Chrysler product…but it isn’t really my personal experience with a Dodge Dakota that’s made me a Chrysler critic.
I’m a believer in facts and hard data, and the hard data on Chrysler (now Fiat-Chrylser) reliability has been consistently bad. Yesterday, Consumer Reports came out with their rankings and guess what: the Chrysler family (Ram, Jeep, Dodge, Chrysler, and Fiat) did very poorly.
As you all know, Fiat is working to obtain 100% ownership of Chrysler-Jeep-Ram this year. As negotiations continue, Fiat is beginning to prepare for 100% ownership in a few ways:
- They’re continuing to restructure their holdings in Europe in an effort to balance world-wide manufacturing capacity
- They’re holding “Lavoratore Indottrinamento” management meetings at all key facilities, with the aim of breaking down cultural barriers between American and Italian executives, engineers, and plant managers
- Most incredibly, they’re working furiously to translate all Chrysler, Jeep, and Ram vehicle owners manuals into Italian, so that manuals can be printed in both languages by the end of the year.
Why, you ask, must owner’s manuals be in both English and Italian? There’s a little-known Italian law that mandates all Italian corporations must produce consumer materials in Italian, even if the materials aren’t for Italian consumers.
According to this Automotive News story, GM classifies 1200 of their dealers as “rural.” While the definition of rural is likely a little loose, here’s what we know about GM’s dealership operations:
- GM has 4,400 dealerships across the USA
- 27% of these dealers are rural
- Toyota has about 1200 dealerships across the USA, and a very small portion of them are rural (our sources say less than 10%)
Assuming that each of these 1200 rural GM dealership can sell either Chevy or GMC trucks, and assuming that each of these dealership can sell a measly 5 trucks per month, GM can generate about 70,000 truck sales in rural areas that Toyota can’t hope to match.
In other words, GM has a big sales volume advantage because of their extensive dealership network in rural areas. Ford – and to a lesser degree Chrysler-Fiat – enjoy this sales volume advantage as well. Here’s what it means to Tundra sales figures.
Chrysler-Fiat is recalling more than 50,000 Ram 1500 pickups because of a rear axle bearing problem that can eventually cause a rear axle failure. The symptoms of this problem are a growling, griding noise coming from the rear axle:
Chrysler is recalling certain model year 2011 Ram 1500 trucks manufactured from September 2009 through December 2010. Some vehicles may have experience a noise (growl, grind) coming from the rear axle bearing which could eventually seize.
If this recall is not completed, a failure of the bearing could cause the vehicle to stall increasing the risk of a crash.
The interesting thing – to me at least – is that these symptoms match a Toyota Tundra TSB (#T-SB-015-10):