Chrysler's Quality Conundrum

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer

Chrysler ranks below the industry standard in J.D. Power and Consumer Report quality ratings. So when ChryCo VP for manufacturing Frank Ewasyshyn announced that warranty costs had fallen by 29 percent in the past year, he had a bit of trouble explaining why the improved reliability wasn't showing up on recent external surveys. When asked by MSNBC to explain this conundrum, Ewasyshyn replied, "If I could answer that question, you wouldn't be asking it. We certainly put enough energy and effort into it." He points to all the things Chrysler is doing right: sending teams to investigate recurring vehicle problems, establishing worker input boards, and standardizing production processes. But then Ewasyshyn takes a page from the GM's handbook: "In the meantime the rest of the organization is focused on improving the things that are customer dissatisfiers, or again, perceived quality." To be fair, Chrysler is digging its way out of a giant hole. Before Daimler offloaded Chrysler, it had the highest warranty costs in the nation; improvements haven't been dramatic enough to bring things up to industry standards. Meanwhile, Chrysler is essentially staying the Tom Lasorda-guided course. "We've got a plan. It works. We're gonna stick to it. And it's constantly being reinforced," Ewasyshyn said. "We know the right formula. Sticking to it and just constantly pushing it every day of the week, challenging people to do better, that's how we're going to get this thing done once and for all."

Edward Niedermeyer
Edward Niedermeyer

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  • Geeber Geeber on Aug 13, 2008
    golden2husky: In my experience, the most critical person is a Toyota/Honda owner looking at almost anything else, especially a domestic product. Things they ignore or don’t notice on their cars become fodder for a thesis on quality when it is seen on a Dodge. What I've noticed is that domestic owners will claim complete satisfaction with their cars, but, when pressed, will list a litany of serious repairs that would have a Toyota/Honda owner screaming bloody murder. If anything, most Honda and Toyota owners bought into the hype about their cars being perfect, and go ballistic when serious problems occur. And if the only difference between the domestics and the best of the imports is a more rigorous service schedule and dealers replacing defective parts on the sly, one wonders why the domestics don't simply do this, too, instead of spending billions to revamp their vehicle development, testing and production processes. That alone tells me there is more to it than that.
  • Blautens Blautens on Aug 13, 2008

    I know two people who had Chrysler dealers deny two warranty claims on engines seized because of oil pickup problems related to sludge, even though the cars (Durangos) were under warranty and the owners had oil change receipts. A little Googling shows that no one fights warranty claims like the Auburn Hills boys. Myself, I had a 93 Caravan that I fortunately chose the 7/70 warranty on, and when the tranny exploded, they took care of it (less the deductible, of course). But back then, a Chrysler tranny exploding was like an oil change - you were going to do it at least once.

  • 70Cougar 70Cougar on Aug 13, 2008

    The big difference in quality between Honda/Toyota and the domestics is how the cars age. A 10 year old Honda or Toyota with 100k on it is ready for its second or third owner to put another 100k plus on it and it still looks decent with just some stains on the interior and maybe some slight paint fading. It runs smoothly and quietly. That's why people pay $5,000 for cars like that A ten year old Dodge has bare aluminum trim where the paint/chrome faded, rust on the horizontal surfaces, spring marks in the bald velour seats, a droopy headliner, and strange buzzes and rattles coming from the engine compartment. They go for $600.

  • Windswords Windswords on Aug 13, 2008

    kken71, How many 10 year old Dodges have you owned? How many 10 year old Toyotas have you owned? How many 10 year old Hondas have you owned? I never owned a 10 year old Dodge. I did however own a 14 year old Chrysler. Other than wear on the upper side of the drivers seat and small dents and few marks on the interior it looked pretty good. I used to get compliments about it.

    • Alex Hannan Alex Hannan on Jan 04, 2011

      My relatives had a 1990 Caravan that managed to eat 5 transmissions, a head gasket, annual (like clockwork) CV boots and engine mounts, and frequent gas lines in the 13 years they owned it. Never mind the abundant peeling clear coat, back hatch rust, etc. Calling a vehicle like this "garbage" is being a bit generous, IMHO - especially when the problems have been corroborated by other owners. The thing might as well have been built by the Soviets.