Fortunate is the brand new automotive purchaser who isn’t saddled with a visit to the seller for recall work inside the first few years of possession. The fashionable age offers us with a terrific many great issues — avocadoes year-round, transmission cogs we are able to rely on all 10 fingers, UberEATS — nevertheless it hasn’t turned the common automobile right into a paragon of reliability.
Final yr, Fiat Chrysler Cars issued a recall for 323,400 2014 and 2015 Jeep Cherokees, in addition to 2015 Renegades, Chrysler 200s, and Ram ProMasters. FCA threw the 2018 Fiat 500X in there for good measure. The issue stemmed from the automaker’s finicky nine-speed automated transmission. Because of inadequate crimps within the transmission sensor cluster’s wire harness (and the following bother code despatched to the automobile’s diagnostic system), some homeowners instantly discovered their Jeep, Chrysler or Ram coasting alongside in impartial — a default place — as an alternative of drive. Can’t have that.
The recall — a minor repair — didn’t look like a giant deal. The autos would usually be drivable (for a time, anyway) after the engine was shut off and turned again on once more, making a visit to the closest licensed FCA dealership comparatively trouble-free. For one Cherokee proprietor, nevertheless, the restore work stood to value him $2,000 greater than what he paid for the automobile.
Our story begins far north of any reader’s hometown, within the small, treeless metropolis of Iqaluit, Nunavut — a settlement on Baffin Island in Canada’s Arctic.
John Fawcett, upon discovering his spouse Sandra was pregnant, got down to buy his first automobile. Baby-rearing in a spot the place the file wind chill stands at a nippy minus 86 Fahrenheit could possibly be disagreeable with no (block heater-equipped) automotive. So, with all-weather traction being in excessive demand within the excessive arctic, he selected a 2014 Jeep Cherokee, for which he negotiated a $22,000 financial institution mortgage. Quick-forward to this August.
Whereas driving across the city of seven,800 individuals, Fawcett’s Cherokee instantly shifted into impartial. The difficulty didn’t resolve itself. After a tow to a neighborhood storage, the mechanic knowledgeable Fawcett that he didn’t have the correct diagnostic tools, so it was off to Google for a solution. Sadly, Google delivered some dangerous information.
Transport Canada, the Canadian equal of the Nationwide Freeway Site visitors Security Administration, had 4 remembers out on the Cherokee, one in every of which involved the shifty transmission. New to the car-owning sport, Fawcett took the information with aplomb.
“I didn’t really feel like a sucker,” Fawcett informed Canada’s Nationwide Put up newspaper. “The recall was on Transport Canada’s web site, and so I accepted that my automotive wanted a bit of labor — and that Chrysler was chargeable for doing this work. That’s sort of what I believed.”
It definitely was the automaker’s accountability at hand over a freshly fastened automobile. Sadly, after contacting FCA public relations workers, Fawcett additionally discovered it was his accountability to get the Cherokee to the closest licensed FCA seller. Anybody with entry to Google Maps will immediately see the issue right here. Iqaluit sits on a barren Arctic island with no street connection to the mainland. Even then, a driver would discover themselves stranded, as no roads lead into, or out of, the huge territory of Nunavut. Greenland is nearer than the closest freeway.
To have his automobile serviced by Fiat Chrysler, Fawcett must load his Cherokee right into a transformed Boeing 737 and fly to Ottawa, some three hours and 15 minutes by air to the south.
The price of dwelling the jet-set life-style in your Jeep? $24,000 return. A ship might lug his Cherokee to a dealership for a 3rd of the associated fee, however the journey would take from August till the spring ice pack breakup subsequent yr.
“In my thoughts, I’d simply been informed by Chrysler that what I had was a $22,000 paper weight that no one was going to repair,” Fawcett stated. “I used to be very upset.”
Iqaluit could not have a lot in the way in which of roads or foliage, nevertheless it does have wi-fi. Sick of paying for expensive taxis and left with few good choices, Fawcett took to harassing the automaker on Twitter, then fashioned a petition calling on all northerners to boycott FCA merchandise. What adopted was a “promising” telephone name from a sympathetic-sounding FCA consultant named Jessica.
The Nationwide Put up confirmed Thursday that FCA, Fawcett, and his native storage have struck an settlement. The automaker will fly an authorized mechanic to Iqaluit, the place winter is closing in quick, to repair that wiring harness and get Fawcett’s life again in gear.
[Images: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles; Northern Pix/Flickr]