Repeated recalls ‘tough all around’

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — On the heels of the General Motors recall debacle in which federal authorities are investigating the automaker’s recall process, another automotive recall is causing headaches.

In December 2013, Chrysler recalled 1.2 million Ram pickup trucks, citing failure of the tie rod assembly.

The problem could cause drivers to lose steering control, increasing the risk of a crash. It has caused seven accidents. Two people have been hurt.

Jeff DeRegnaucourt owns a 2010 Dodge Ram 2500. He said he worries for his safety every time he drives his truck. Often, he has his young granddaughter with him.

“I’ve been … white-knuckling ever since I found out,” DeRegnaucourt said.

DeRegnaucourt took his truck to K & M Dodge on Plainfield Avenue NE in Grand Rapids to have it fixed in December, but was told the part wouldn’t be in until April.

In March, the dealership called him, saying the part was in. DeRegnaucourt dropped of the truck and had a dealership driver bring him home. Just as he sat down at his computer to work, he said, the dealership called him again and said there was a problem with the new part.

“I’ve still got a bad part here and I want the truck fixed so I know it’s safe to drive down the road,” DeRegnaucourt said. “I don’t think I’m asking too much.”

K & M Dodge Assistant Service Manager Nick Mesman explained the dealership merely represents the manufacturer and is the proverbial middleman in the situation.

“My job is to get it fixed and back on the road. You’re doing me no good if it’s sitting here tying up a hoist. I’ve got to get you out so I can get the next guy in,” Mesman said.

Mesman said sending the new parts back is a headache for everyone.

“For some reason, they (Chrysler) have asked for the parts back … It’s tough all the way around, but they’re doing it for a reason,” he said.

Meanwhile, DeRegnaucourt is losing his patience and he’s not the only one. Target 8 discovered 82 complaints on safercar.gov, a U.S. Department of Transportation website for consumers. Many are frustrated the part won’t be available for months.

One driver wrote, “the lack of parts to repair these trucks is not acceptable!”

Another wrote, “the recall epidemic has gotten out of control.”

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, automakers last year issued 632 recalls involving 22 million vehicles.

“It’s the whole recall process. It started as a train wreck and it’s gotten worse from there,” said DeRegnaucourt.

A Chrysler spokesperson called Target 8 three days after our crew spoke with DeRegnaucourt, explaining DeRegnaucourt’s part is at a warehouse in Milwaukee and is on its way to Grand Rapids.

The automaker has said it recalled more trucks than necessary, erring on the side of caution. Chrysler said more than half of the recalled vehicles may not need the repair.

“There’s no reason to panic. Chrysler will notify you if your affected vehicle had a recall and something got changed. They’ll let you know that they need to get it back in and do it again. Yeah, it’s a hassle, but they’re looking out for the safety of their customer,” said Mesman.

You can check recalls and reports and file complaints about your vehicle at safercar.gov.

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