By on October 30, 2014

Doug Betts

A day after Fiat Chrysler Automobiles found itself near or at the bottom of Consumer Reports 2014 Annual Reliability Survey, FCA quality boss Doug Betts left the building.

Per Autoblog, Betts came over to what was then Chrysler in 2007 after leaving Nissan, and had a challenging relationship with CEO Sergio Marchionne near the end of his tenure with the automaker.

In a brief press release, FCA announced Matthew Lidane would take Betts’ place as quality chief. Lidane has been with the automaker since 1987, having worked with Jeep as chief engineer, and was the boss for the U.S. compact wide platform underpinning two poor performers in this year’s survey, the Jeep Cherokee and Dodge Dart.

As for Betts, he left “to pursue other interests.”

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116 Comments on “FCA Quality Chief Replaced Day After Poor Survey Outing...”


  • avatar
    Beerboy12

    So the Betts are off then… In a way I am not supprised at this move or the fact that FCA are having quality issues. They have a lot of new and very good products out there that, while never problem free, should not drag them to the bottom of the list. Me thinks the QC chief is where the problems are. It’s a shame because quality issues are hard to recover from.

    • 0 avatar
      Blackcloud_9

      +1
      “So the Betts are off!”
      *Ba-Dum, Peesh* (Rim Shot)
      Don’t worry folks, he’ll be here all week. Don’t forget to tip your servers

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      This is the company that can’t fire drunken potheads for being caught on video getting inebriated during their lunch breaks. There’s only so much a ‘QC Chief’ can do, such as being a scapegoat.

      • 0 avatar
        RobertRyan

        @CJ in SD
        FCA still has a pretty poor reputation in Australia, but the Grand Cherokee’s generally good dynamics has been its shining star. There have been many FCA advertisements for Jeep, in fact it advertises more than all the other companies put together. Problem is electronic niggles resulting in overheating and stalling are dimming the light of it’s shining star.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    FCA Titanic… dissent in the ranks…. crewmen being tossed overboard… iceberg in plain sight….

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Deck chairs on the Titanic. Quality is a mantra, not an executive position.

    Also:

    “Betts came over to what was then Chrysler in 2007 after leaving Nissan”

    I seem to recall Nissan product circa 2007 as being garbage, poor quality executive moves must be a Detroit thing.

  • avatar
    340-4

    So, my ’14 Charger has been flawless over the last year.

    Their U-connect is the best system I’ve encountered.

    Everyone I know who has owned a Chrysler/Dodge/Ram/Jeep vehicle over at least the last six years has loved them and had no problems.

    Am I missing something?

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      “Am I missing something?”

      Anecdotes are not data.

      It’s also a matter of understanding what this means. If reliability is “much worse than average,” that does not mean that everyone had a problem with the car. What it does mean is that a higher percentage than average had a problem; it would help to know what that figure is.

      • 0 avatar
        340-4

        I didn’t say they were.

        I was simply pointing out what I have experienced, been told, and learned over the last 40 years.

        Which, obviously, means nothing.

        So either we’re really damned lucky around here, or we’re statistical outliers, or we’re bright enough to figure out how to use our infotainment systems.

        Or, we’re driving ticking time bombs.

        Guess we’ll find out one day.

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          Consumer Reports reports its findings based upon a comparison to the average. Being “worse than average” is worse than average, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that most people were affected.

          For example, if “much better than average” means that 1% of owners had problems while “much worse than average” means that 20% of owners had problems, then you and your circle may be part of the 80%. 20% is a lot bigger than 1%, but 80% means that many don’t suffer.

          In this example, it’s quite possible for the buyer of “much worse” to buy several vehicles in a row without having any issues. (In this example, the likelihood that someone could buy three good “much worse” vehicles in a row is 51%.) But the odds of this happening are lower than they are for a buyer of the “much better” vehicles.

          (The 1% and 20% figures are just examples; I don’t know the actual figures for CR.)

        • 0 avatar
          Lou_BC

          @340-4

          I agree with Pch101.

          JD Power does give numbers. The industry average in 2013 (on 3 year old vehicles) was 133 problems per 100. As an example Ram rates 165/100 and Ford rates 140/100.
          Ford is 5% worse than average whereas Ram is 19% below average.
          If one looks at the industry average you have a 20% greater chance of requiring repairs with a Ram.

          That is going to amount to a few more dealer visits for repairs over a vehicle’s lifetime.

      • 0 avatar
        heavy handle

        Also, the lowest rankings in this year’s survey would have been top rankings 10 years ago, so even the “bad” brands are good.

        You know we’re in a good place, reliability-wise, when the “major” complaint is that people can’t figure out how to pair their phone via Bluetooth.
        Are these the same people who still have VCRs, that are still flashing “12:00”? It seems like more of those people buy Dodges than Lexuses. Who knew?

        • 0 avatar
          Big Al from Oz

          @heavy handle,
          But, is going from one of the poorer markets regarding quality and rising make it acceptable now?

          The NA market is improving. It had to as has been shown by the rapid take up of imports over locally manufactured product.

          From poor to better still leaves room for improvement. Benchmarking and improving of standards takes a while.

          • 0 avatar
            heavy handle

            Al,

            I’m not sure that the North American market is “one of the poorer markets regarding quality.”

            First off, the rapid intake of imports has been going on for 40 years. It’s not a new thing, and it’s not dissimilar to Australia.

            Second, many of the low-ranking brands in NA are imports, and those same brands do better in their home markets.

            Third, CR’s notion of “quality,” just like JD Power’s notion of “quality,” doesn’t necessarily line-up with consumers’ notion of the same. For instance, every FJ Cruiser has noisy diffs, collapsing seat foam and paint that’s as thin as gold leaf. Ask the owners and they will tell you it’s the best truck they’ve ever owned, and they won’t even mention these issues in a survey. Those same owners will complain if their address book doesn’t update over Bluetooth, even though the issue is most likely caused by the phone’s software.

          • 0 avatar
            bosozoku

            “one of the poorer markets regarding quality”

            In what sense? You know we seppos represent the largest buying market for autos, right? The number of vehicles sold here in a month run about the total sales average of all of Oceania each year. We get a lot of variation in quality, from very good to very bad, but ours is hardly at the low end of the quality spectrum.

          • 0 avatar
            RobertRyan

            @Heavy Handle
            After being in a fair numberof NA vehicles and noticing what was being driven around in the US, you do have more than your fair share of pretty ordinary vehicles

      • 0 avatar
        Flipper35

        But isn’t Consumer Reports the same company that rated the three Diamond Star cars very differently even though they were all built in the same plant in IL with different badges?

    • 0 avatar
      jeano

      My wife’s 2012 Ram has had many warranty repairs (various parts of the wiring harness, exhaust manifold) and recalls.
      So yes, I think you are missing something

      • 0 avatar
        340-4

        Well I’m glad I’m missing THAT experience.

        I owned a VW. I know pain.

        Nothing I’ve owned since has given me any trouble, be it Nissan or Dodge.

        Again, more valueless, pointless, substandard, beneath consideration anecdotal blather.

        Right?

      • 0 avatar
        wmba

        My pal is the warranty administrator at a local Chrysler Dodge Fiat dealer, and has been for decades.

        He drives a Sonata.

        As he says, if you know what his job is and put two and two together, you can quickly figure out, duh, that it is not in your best interest to purchase an FCA vehicle.

        He says things are no better now than a decade ago, and perhaps worse. Keeps his job high-profile at the dealership. They keep lots of electrical parts on hand, including piles of U- Connects.

        People can go on and on about bad reliability ratings today being better than good ratings from 10 years ago,or they can get real and face reality, as my pal does every day.

        Chrysler needs to pull up its socks, just as it did 10 years ago when I first met him, and he’d go on then about rubbish parts.

        Apologists need not bother to out shout me – you have no ammunition whatsoever.

        • 0 avatar
          raresleeper

          This comment, from wmba, is all I need.

          Thank You, Kind Sir.

          Further reinforcement that I will NOT be purchasing anything from Sergio and his cronies.

        • 0 avatar
          pgcooldad

          Why did your pal settle for the 13th ranked vehicle manufacturer on Consumers Report’s 2015 predicted reliability list?
          They were actually No. 21 in 2014, and if he was aware of Hyundai’s superior reliability, what does that say about CR’s methodology ranking them so low?

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          Cool anecdote. Which dealer might this mythical warranty admin work for?

        • 0 avatar
          DeadWeight

          FIAT is going to do a hit job on Chrysler & Dodge’s rankings, just as Chrysler & Dodge were starting to make serious strides in QC and durability.

          FIAT does an Italian Job on MOPAR.

          • 0 avatar

            Yep, nods, sleep. Besides the fact you discount all modern engineering and placement, you heart is in the right place. Better driving cars uber alles!

          • 0 avatar

            Damn, DW you are a figure. As a guy who rightly sees HyunKia’s, among others, shortcomings, you can’t lend yourself to a little education in other places. However, I see you as the typical North American customer, one who has to be cracked if the full potential of the Fiat-Chrysler merger is ever to be realized. Next time, drive a couple of Fiat cars, then get back to us. I’m pretty sure you can be swayed.

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            It’s not personal, and even I can see why some, especially in European or South American cities would be fond of and gravitate towards Fiats.

            But reliability can not possibly be one of the reasons for that fondness nor gravitation. It just can’t be.

          • 0 avatar
            geeber

            It’s up to Fiat to make vehicles with competitive reliability. Then they will “crack” those customers.

            The views on Fiat’s reliability are not based on “confirmation biases” or “opinions.” They are confirmed by Consumer Reports.

            Fiats may seem reliable to Brazilians. All that this proves is that Brazilians place a lower priority on reliability than Americans do, or that Brazilians have lower standards for reliability than Americans do.

        • 0 avatar
          bk_moto

          While FCA vehicles may indeed be utter crap, your pal is in a bit of a biased position. He only sees the vehicles that come in with problems and not the ones that don’t. So his position reinforces his impression.

          Perhaps if he was the warranty administrator at a local Hyundai dealer he’d be driving a Dodge…

    • 0 avatar
      LectroByte

      > So, my ’14 Charger has been flawless over the last year.

      Check back in with us in a year or three. The first year or two, the Chrysler products I owned were great, too.

      • 0 avatar
        MrIcky

        I don’t know, I have an 07 Ram that’s been issue free. Again, back to anecdotes. I had one of those minivans that were supposed to explode as soon as the warranty expires, I sold it at 110,000 with no problems.

        • 0 avatar
          Lou_BC

          @MrIcky – I on the other hand had a Grand Caravan that was worthy of the “Fix It Again Tony” moniker.

          Anecdotal evidence is swayed by our own preferences.
          If I happen to like big t!ts, I might not care about the extra maintenance costs.

          Same can be said for vehicles.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            @Lou_BC,
            I possibly hear some fan boi or girl’isms happening here!

            I do believe FCA has made inroads, but it has a little ways to go to placate some disgruntled customers like myself who bought a piece of shut in the past.

            Here in Australia the Grand Cherokee has reliability issues. Not as bad as the past but there are many unhappy customers.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            @Big Al: A comment like this from you seems unusual on average so I admit to surprise in seeing it now; but that’s beside the point.

            I don’t think you can call it fanboi-ism when Fiat is effectively brand new to the States. Quite honestly it hasn’t been here long enough to generate all-out fans of their cars–yet. However, we all know that Fiat left the US 40 years ago with a very poor reputation and that rep still sticks to them today. Fiat today is not the Fiat of 40 years ago. I choose to give them the benefit of the doubt and to be quite honest the Jeep Cherokee–the first real Fiat-built Jeep–seems to be maintaining a fairly good record for reliability–certainly better than my Daimler-built Wrangler. But then, I thought my Daimler-built Wrangler was pretty good until the electronics went haywire and I’ve been forced into 6 complete brake replacements over the course of 3 years; front axle twice and rear axle once after 50,000 miles. Quite literally, the brakes seized axle for axle for no apparent reason. The ‘soft’ brake lines had to be replaced all around to clear the issue. I understand companies wanting to save a buck or two on materials, but Daimler did NOT have that reputation.

            On the other hand, Daimler DID sell off Chrysler’s electronics division which had previously been classed as one of the best–if not the best–in the industry to Siemens. Chrysler is now either contracting the electronics or has been forced to design and build their own and the time FCA took to bring out the new Cherokee–especially delaying its launch to pin down the transmission programming–says they’re at least trying to do it right.

            So to be honest I’m actively trying to give FCA (Fiat) an open mind. Ford’s reputation with me is not good. GM lost my respect with how they treated not only a rising new brand for them but also two of their oldest and revered brands. Quite literally, in the last 10 years GM has only built ONE car I really wanted and even that one doesn’t exist any more because it was killed in two of the three brands they shut down and the Opel version will likely never see the light of day here in the States. GM has made nothing but mistakes since 2004 in my opinion. And I really DON’T want to buy Japanese despite their popularity–they simply don’t have that many cars I like.

            The European brands? If Opel came to the States as Opel–with their styles and body lines intact–I might be interested. There’s not one Mercedes, Audi or other well-known European model I like that’s currently available–and yes, that even includes BMW’s Mini–while cute and likely fun, it’s reliability and cost record have destroyed what Mini used to be. I would like to see Peugeot back in the States, and Citroen. I am happy to see Fiat back with its Maserati and hope to see other Fiat models come as themselves and not bastardizations of the 500 itself. But since FCA has chosen the route they have, they deserve at least the benefit of the doubt. After all, they are QUITE popular in places where reliability and serviceability seem to count most over appearances and social status.

      • 0 avatar
        Flipper35

        We have a Durango with 181k miles and not many issues. Alternator, starter, nothing major. We had a 2004 Stratus we traded with 167k miles because the engine was going south quickly. Yes, we told the dealer. Every company puts out a lemon now and then, but around here there are far more Mopar minivans and LX cars than other brands in those categories. There are even a good number of Darts for some reason. I don’t know why since you could get a bigger car with a better engine with not much worse economy for the same price. When we traded our Stratus, they were sold out of Darts. Too bad the Hellcat wasn’t out at that time.

  • avatar

    Not surprised to hear this. I leased a 2014 Dart and its already been in the shop twice for a clunking noise when going over bumps… the parts are backordered so it makes me think this is effecting quite a few Darts.

    I’m in a Cherokee loaner and the transmission is awful, not sure if its been reflashed but I don’t know why anyone would buy one of these things with that peice of crap transmission.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      What prompted you to go with the Dart in the first place, considering how barring the Lancer it may very well be the worst entrant in that segment?

      Every time I see one I say a little prayer for that 1.4L saddled with nearly 3,400 lbs. I look in wonder at all the overhang and wonder why it’s necessary, given the car’s tiny engines. It’s a bizarre car.

    • 0 avatar
      nrd515

      I drive one regularly and have nothing bad at all to say about the transmission. From day one, before the flash, I had no complaints. It seems a bit smoother shifting after the flash, but it’s very slight.

  • avatar
    NeilM

    As Voltaire wrote, satirizing the 1757 British execution of Admiral Byng: “In this country, it is good to kill an admiral from time to time, in order to encourage the others.” Chrysler execs, consider yourselves encouraged!

  • avatar
    VoGo

    Whether or not Marchionne is named the new quality czar will tell us how serious FCA is about fixing its quality issues.

    • 0 avatar
      raresleeper

      Marchionne is a sales czar. Their marketing alone is a phenomenon in and of itself.

      Seeing the life cycle/longevity of the Fiatslers will be the main judge of whether or not they’ve addressed the hit-and-miss Chrysler Quality reputation they’ve earned over the years.

      He paints a pretty picture, that’s for sure.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    I think some (but by no means all) of FCA’s quality issues are perceptual, not actual. I do know that FCA has been doing their darnedest to address the issues left behind by their Daimler predecessors–not always as successfully as they’d like BECAUSE of how Daimler stripped Chrysler of some of its better divisions and plants. In effect, FCA is having to rebuild many divisions from scratch and Chrysler’s once leading electronics division is one of them.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      Plymouth needs to make a comeback. Bargain basement subcompacts based on re-badged Fiats. Then FCA can slowly convert Fiat into a mainstream brand in the US. “Fiat” can’t just jump right (back) in. Won’t happen that way.

  • avatar
    petezeiss

    Meh… quality is overrated. You don’t need as much at my age.

    Where’s the Renegade already?

  • avatar
    raresleeper

    Okay, Fiat Chrysler has, in my humble opinion, improved their fit and finish by leaps and bounds. That’s a start.

    I was afraid that their mechanicals hadn’t improved by the same leaps and bounds.

    Sure enough. Pity.

    I’m not a believer. Don’t bother passing that Kool-Aid this way.

    But the fit and finish, on the 200 alone, is really remarkable….

    • 0 avatar
      MrIcky

      Pretty sure the Consumer Reports article said it wasn’t mechanicals, but was infotainment related issues.

      • 0 avatar
        raresleeper

        Ah.

        Reminds me of Ford with their “MyTouch” fiasco.

        But I’ve heard nothing but praise for UConnect….?

        Oh well. Some little old lady calling in and complaining because she can’t figure out how to change the station, those type of things, I suppose.

    • 0 avatar
      hubcap

      “But I’ve heard nothing but praise for UConnect….?”

      I believe Chrysler introduced a new or updated version. Anyway, the link below is a You Tube video in which CR explains its methodology and delves a bit deeper into the rankings.

      —>http://youtu.be/eRqE5f4tnuE

  • avatar
    nguyenvuminh

    I find it amusing that having spent 10 years in Asia and now back in the US, things haven’t changed much. That’s why I get a chuckle out of all the positive comments about recent Chrysler/Fiat products. Everything is relative, two times zero is still zero. The current Chrysler/Fiat cars are WAY BETTER than the Chrysler/Fiat cars 5-10 years ago, but that’s a comparison within its own product line. When compared against Honda, Toyota, even Ford, they are still the laggards. Chrysler is known for, and proud, of their heritage of making iconic cars like the minivan, the Neon, Viper, PT Cruiser, etc. It’s in their blood. They don’t think/sleep/eat quality, it’s not in their corporate culture. And now with Marchionne, he’s a change-around artist and a financial whiz, I don’t think it’s going to change any time soon.

    • 0 avatar
      nrd515

      I know a lot of people who had had more, and more severe issues, like failing transmissions and turbos, etc, in Ford stuff than in Chrysler vehicles. I don’t know anyone, not counting the timing chain recall issue, that has had any serious issues with a Jeep GC, Cherokee, Wronger, Ram, Challenger, 300, or Charger that wasn’t due to the horrible road conditions last Winter. I don’t blame a busted strut or, in my case, a broken rear suspension arm, and then a cracked vent line on Chrysler, I blame it on Winter, and Toledo/Lucas County road crews and the lack of pothole repairs. Other than accident damage, and bad road damage, my issue with my Challenger was a weak window motor. That’s it, in four years and 42K miles. My experience seems to be pretty typical as I know a haf dozen Challenger owners in the general area. Unless something changes, my next car will probably be another Challenger, hopefully with a 6.4L.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        I think its funny you name those models as they are FCA’s best ones, I would expect them to hold up. But what about the old 200/Avenger, Dart, Fiat 500? Those seem to be a mixed bag.

  • avatar
    MrIcky

    Interestingly, the Dart 1.4 is the least reliable and the Dart 2.0 is the most reliable- so when the Italian engine touches a Uconnect- implosion.

    @nguyenvuminh: That’s kind of crap about Ford, it’s only 2 places higher on the list (23 vs 25). Ford’s worst is worse than Dodge’s worst according to CR report. Ford’s high is higher too though, so whatever that means.

    I’m not disagreeing on the others, but Ford always seems to get a pass and I can’t figure out why. Anecdotally speaking I’ve never really seen Ford as being particularly better than the other D3. They feel more European in both the good ways and the bad.

    When I saw the list had perennial lease-bait Audi as top 5, you know the list is flawed anyway.

    • 0 avatar
      nickoo

      In my humble opinion, my observations of each product from the big 3 are that ford is the best and most thoughtfuly engineered but that they are slipping with fill for life transmission units, followed by Chrysler, followed by gm. Now, the issue comes up that there can be canyon sized gaps between models from the same manufacturer simply because cars are very price sensitive. I think Honda and Toyota, more than other manufacturers, are very good at putting out a high baseline that their products across all levels must meet. One example I can give are cars with transmission drain plugs and screw off filters. Spending a few extra bucks here and there makes maintenance so much easier and owners and mechanics much more appreciative, which furthers reputations.

    • 0 avatar
      TW5

      Do you know for sure that the 2.0L version has Uconnect? I bet a lion’s share of the problem is just Uconnect. CR ratings are very susceptible to infotainment glitches.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        2.0L Darts are on the low end of the content spectrum and now relegated solely to the base trim. Most won’t even have basic phone connectivity, let alone the 8.4N with all the bells and whistles.

      • 0 avatar
        nrd515

        A friend of mine rented a Dart last week when he was visiting his daughter, and he was totally bewildered by U-Connect to the point he was wanting to take it back for something else. He even has problems in my car, a 2010 Challenger, and I don’t know how it could be much easier to use than it is. The touch screen seems to be a problem for him, really odd, since I have no issues with it at all, never have coming up on 4 years. I do think a lot lot of the infotainment systems are too complex for their own good, and CR should make a separate category for “issues”/complaints about the radios and electronics that have nothing to do with a real problem, just users not being able to use it because they don’t read the manual. A friend of mine had his Challenger for almost 3 years and didn’t know about half of the features in it. He was shocked when we came out of a store and I had put down the windows with the fob while we were walking to the car. He got all worked up when he saw the car, and said, “Oh man, someone got into your car!”. I said, “Huh?”, “Your windows are down!”. I held up the fob and he just stared at me. “Read your owner’s manual!”. He was like a kid on Christmas when he did, “I didn’t know it could do all that stuff!”. His memory sucks because I showed him all the stuff the EVIC had in it when he bought the car.

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    A penny here, a penny there, soon a carmaker is saving $10 a car. Sell a million cars annually, that’s $10 million to the bottom line. Like the bean counters will let a quality control chief put the kibosh on that.

    • 0 avatar
      petezeiss

      Well *I* like your little comment.

      Who among us pays a farthing more than absolutely necessary for anything? Why expect corporations to be any different?

      I wish I’d had the disposition to be a bean counter.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      It actually makes sense from a business model standpoint to have Fiats manufactured (as in, 100% of the components) and assembled in China, then exported to the rest of the world.

      They could be the really stylish, really inexpensive, disposable (engineered to last for 80,000 to 100,000 miles, at most) vehicles that truly serve as the 1st major entry point for large scale Chinese vehicles to be sold in western markets.

      Price them at $8,999 USD to $12,999 USD, provide a 3 year/36,000 mile warranty, load them up with soda pop electronic entertainment technology & Cree led lighting, and blow them out the door on $109/month leases, too.

      There could be a wacky, eccentric 2nd hand industry of garage artisans/Chinese eBay/Alibaba parts procurers who dedicate their time to reviving these and keep them running in ingenious ways as the find their way to the used market, broken in a myriad of ways, with 70,000 miles on the pedometers.

  • avatar
    nickoo

    Until Chrysler fires workers showing up drunk and high and empowers qa to stop production to sort quality issues, quality issues will remain. The Chrysler mantra of pushing out product and fixing it at the dealer failed spectacularly with the 9 speed in the Cherokee. They still have bad paint in the lx cars and for a while had suspension and steering component issues from mandated cheap parts, in addition I see a lot if misaligned trunk lids on the darts and chargers that looks awful with the full tail lamps. I think they could do better if they were independent from fiat, a company not known for quality on any level. The challenge remains to rebuild the Chrysler brand and to do that, they need cars on the level if Buick/acura/Lincoln

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      Under the long-term brand strategy unveiled earlier this year, Chrysler is assuming the role of the corporation’s “mass market” brand. It will compete directly with Chevrolet, Ford, Honda, Hyundai, Nissan and Toyota. It will not be a premium brand. Dodge will become a limited, performance-oriented brand.

      • 0 avatar
        nickoo

        I read that too. I think it’s a huge mistake. Dodge should be the Chevy competition with full line up. Chrysler should be a step up in quality while still offering a great value.

        • 0 avatar
          Zackman

          IMHO, Dodge should concentrate on trucks and maybe performance cars like Challengers, bring back Plymouth and compete on the Ford & Chevy level with minivans, 200s and Darts and Chrysler should be on Buick’s turf with the 300 and up-level minivans.

          Jeep must stand alone.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            I must disagree with the view RE: Plymouth.

            The final Plymouth models were pretty crap and not memorable. Now, offering fewer models, FCA doesn’t really need another brand. Dodge does lower end everything but trucks, Jeep is alone, and Chrysler does mid-level stuff. They don’t have the product to aim any higher or spread further out. And I don’t think anybody is desiring a rebadge job as a Plymouth again, which is inevitably what they would be.

    • 0 avatar
      and003

      In the case of Jefferson North Assembly Plant, that is exactly what they did, but the fired workers went to the UAW and the matter went to an arbitrator who told Chrysler they had no choice but to take them back. A sad state of affairs, if you ask me. :(

  • avatar
    Halftruth

    Gotta go with 340-4 here.. I have owned nothing but Chrysler vehicles for the last 20 or so years and not one of them was a problem child. Not one tranny was replaced (three LH vehicles), engines reliable as any out there and fit and finish holding up very well (save for the LHS with clearcoat meltdown). All were sold with well over 100k, one near 200. The Dakota I had was built much better than the Tacoma I now have. Super reliable, no rust and no major problems. What the hell are they including in these reports, a loose door handle or a dead battery in a key fob?

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Chrysler seems to be hit or miss. I recall several gen 1 LH cars (3.3) well in excess of 200K in the 2005 period, which always surprised me. Yet many gen 2 LH were very problematic. I’ve seen plenty Dodge Rams go the distance and yet some years and drivetrains again are problematic. Early Dakotas suffer from frame rot issues, yet the later ones seem to have been built better. Chrysler is simply not consistent.

    • 0 avatar
      LectroByte

      > The Dakota I had was built much better than the Tacoma I now have.

      Seriously? I want what you are smoking.

      • 0 avatar

        The current gen Tacomas are no where neer as bulletproof as previous gens (other then so far being better at avoiding frame rot.)

        • 0 avatar
          gtemnykh

          My mechanic brother recently worked on his first 2nd gen Tacoma a few months ago, he has some regulars with the 1st gen (95-04) trucks. The 2nd gen tacoma needed front wheel bearings at 80k miles, poor seal design he says. After crawling around it some more he came to the same conculsion of ‘they don’t build them like they used to’ barring the insta-rot frames on the 1st gen trucks. At the time I was sort of looking at getting into a quad cab TRD Tacoma as an upgrade from my Hamamatsu built 96′ 4Runner and he very strongly recommended against it.

  • avatar
    raresleeper

    Reading the comments here, I see a lot of people mentioning the notoriously shoddy Chrysler build quality.

    I stand by my previous statement regarding the fit and finish of the new 200. Perhaps it is only limited to that particular model of their line up, as I have no experience with any other Fiatslers as of late.

    But again, the loaded 200 I gave a gander in the showroom, ONLY from a fit and finish standpoint, was glorious. I did not drive it, though. I’m sure the driving characteristics of such would quickly remind me that this is, in fact, a Chrysler vehicle, whose apple would not fall far from the tree.

    I may still give a left testicle for a Challenger/Charger Hellcat. I wouldn’t give a testicle for a minty, low-mileage Prowler (yup, a PRE-Bankruptcy Chrysler product), but I’d still LOVE to have one. And I’ve heard great things about the new Durango.

    But the Japanese-esque commercial in which the Asian-voiced voice-over was praising the new 200 (don’t know if you’ve seen it) just makes me laugh.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      A significant investment was made in the all-new body shop at the Sterling Heights plant that builds the 200 to generate that world class build quality. I especially appreciate the paint finish which has noticeably less orange peel and inconsistencies than competing products.

      • 0 avatar
        wmba

        Not withstanding my comments above about my pal, a Chrysler dealer warranty administrator, I’d agree with you about the new 200’s paint job and body fit.

        I drove a new 200 AWD back during the summer. In early September, I sampled the new Acura TLX. The Chrysler’s paint and door fitment was far superior. The inside and engine bay, though, not in the same class.

        Even Baruth has commented on Honda/Acura’s poor paint in these pages. It’s pretty darn awful unless you you are a fan of orange peel. Subaru’s paint on the new Legacy made in Indiana is much better than Acura as well. My 2008 is much better as well, with almost undetectable orange peel.

        So, I do give Chrysler a thumbs up on good paint. Now they need to make the mechanicals and electricals as good.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I too really enjoyed those commercials.

    • 0 avatar
      TW5

      Chrysler learned how to make outlandish reliability lies from VW and their 100,000 mile campaign. The Asian theme was a nice touch, though.

    • 0 avatar
      petezeiss

      Found that ad on YouTube. Voice over is Japanese.

      You’ve got to admire a little bodacious conceit. Like we’d ever sell them cars. Especially rattle-wagons like kuraisura.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Had 4 Caravans between 1993 and 2011. All acquired new.

    Multiple transmission failures/replacements.
    One had plastic continually crack in the cabin.
    One had to have its alternator, water pump and rad changed.
    One had problems with the ABS.
    One needed a replacement for its power window ‘motor’.

    None kept for longer than 145,000kms or 5 years.
    All maintained by the dealer.

    Chrysler: great ideas, imperfectly executed.

    • 0 avatar
      heavy handle

      If you don’t mind, why did you keep buying them? I know they were dirt cheap, but so where the GM and Ford minivans. Toyota’s 1990s minivans were tough as nails and not that much more expensive.

      It seems really odd to keep betting on the same horse, given the fact that you never had a winner.

  • avatar

    Quality of any car has always struck me as “how much did they pay to build it”. This is more important, usually, than where it was built, the union status of the workers, or phases of the moon. This is solely a decision of the guys in the executive suite.

    I’ll never forget a Dodge Durango we rented. Not only was it noisy and thirsty, but when I gave it the once over, I’d never seen such penny pinching, to the point where the plastics under the hood of a fairly new car were warped because they were so thin.

    When you go to the suppliers, and say you want an alternator that lasts 100k, or one that lasts 200k, they will make it for you. It is no mystery to any automaker how long most parts last….they won’t tell US, but they know. Multiply this by a few thousand parts and you end up with a tank like the Volvo 240 or the E46, or in the other direction, you get a disposable car.

    Chrysler has traditionally had some interesting engineering but suffered from the bean counters making everything as cheaply as possible.

    While I’m not a professional mechanic, I’ve taken more than a few of my rides apart for necessity or fun, and once you remove the shiny crap on top, you quickly see if the car is a “make it out of warranty”, or “built to last” design. My Mercury Mystique, my GLH Turbo, and a Cherokee I had were “out of warranty” cars.

    We have even seen cars change this status from model run to model run-those 90’s Accords are still out there. Sometimes someone says “we built this too well”, and a few pennies here and there are saved, at the expense of a blown up part at 130k. Since that is way out of warranty, and “they should buy a new one anyway”, it plays to the planned obsolesce. A typical car maker knows roughly when the repairs will become too much too frequent and the monthly payment again begins to look good to assure getting to work in the morning.

    Firing this guy like something was his fault (or this was new at ChryCo) is firing the deck chair manager on a famous cruise ship which only sailed once.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      I agree with much of what you wrote, but the E46 was a disposable diaper. The front suspension was grossly inadequate for the weight of the car. The cooling system consists of rapidly deteriorating maintenance parts. The interiors wilt in the sun. Many of the sensors are unreliable and require both specialized diagnostic equipment and laborious processes to replace. It seems like they’re disappearing from the streets even faster than the self-recycling E36s did.

    • 0 avatar
      MrIcky

      Whew, you almost had me, then i saw the e46 is a tank comment and realized you were just kidding. Good one.

    • 0 avatar
      jim brewer

      Well the decontenting can be awful. GM is the worst for this, but Chrysler holds the all-time record with the Neon. The original Neon was as close to a Honda Civic as an American car manufacturer could get. By the time it was discontinued it was less than a tin can. What if they had gone the other way and had tried to make the Neon better, instead of worse? They weren’t far behind when they started.

  • avatar
    SayMyName

    I know that when I think “quality control,” my mind goes immediately to the… Jeep Liberty.

    Even Betts’ expression says, “you seriously couldn’t find a better vehicle to have in the background?”

    • 0 avatar
      Aqua225

      I think the Liberty falls in the same category as all other Chrysler products on quality. You either get a good one or you get a bad one. I got a good one in my 2005. I did end up trading it for a Nissan Titan in 2010, but only because I needed more towing capacity.

      My unit had limited slip rear diff, was 4×4, and had the 3.7L engine, which was quite zippy, if not the quietest power maker ever built.

      The vehicle did a lot of time on the beach, in sand, locked in, with narry a hiccup. A/C blasting, low or high range, it was calm, cool, and collected.

      Later on, not because of any defect in the Titan, I wish I had kept the thing. I ended buying a good car though to supplement the Titan, a Civic Si sedan ’12 (which most of the B&B also hate, go figure).

  • avatar

    Well I obviously have a bit of a fan boy name but here are my thoughts. FCA seems to have made major improvements but they are still plagued by cost cutting most of their engineering is sound but they cut costs here and there and it bites them in the butt. I rarely here of engine problems with FCA cars or transmission troubles, (other than annoyance over the 9 speed and dart units) but lots of body and system issues from cost cutting. Which seems to put them back to late 80’s mopars we build good engines and drive trains bodys not so much.

    Now for complaints I actually here from people most people I meet who complain about quality seem to own a German car or a Ford truck. Not sure why that is but it is. The odd thing is the 4 people Ive talked to in the past year who had major issues with f-150’s all went and bought new ones. Not sure how Ford manages that.

    • 0 avatar
      nrd515

      I have a friend who I have known for almost 30 years. He has bought one single non Ford vehicle in that time, an ’88 Vette, which he had zero issues with. Other than that, no matter how bad the last one was, he buys another and another. Even goes back to a dealer who tried to rip him off. He had a Windstar that ate SEVEN transmissions in the three years he had it. Why it wasn’t Lemoned? I don’t know, but after all that, he turned it in (Leased for 3 years) and got an Explorer that also had trans, radiator, electrical, and finally, head gasket issues. What did he trade it in on? Another Explorer! That was was good. He has had two F250’s, one was ok, the other was in the shop all the time. His present F150 Ecoboost has had some issues, most were quickly resolved, but for some reason, it wants to eat right rear tires! They have checked the alignment and it’s ok, the rear end isn’t crooked, but it basically wore out the outside tread in less than 20K miles. His wife just bought an Edge, even though the last one was a turd. I don’t get it. I’ve only had one truly bad vehicle, a ’77 Dodge Power Wagon, and it scared me off from Chrysler for almost 9 years. Nothing Ford does bad makes him go anywhere else. It’s crazy. He spends an awful lot of time in dealer waiting rooms, a lot more than I do.

  • avatar

    The only survey that matters is JD powers. Let’s wait until they have their say.

    With their history did anyone think Fiat would improve Chrysler quality?

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      Sarcasm?

      JD Powers?

    • 0 avatar
      and003

      Speaking for myself, I’ve come across articles regarding Chrysler vehicles whose quality has improved since the Fiat deal was finalized. Most notably, after Marchionne and his associates came in, he ordered massive improvements to the Sebring in order to create the first Chrysler 200, which was much better than the Sebring. Eventually, they brought out a Chrysler 200 that wasn’t a Sebring derivative, so Fiat must be doing something right.

      Even so, there’s always room for improvement, as this Consumer Reports survey would seem to indicate. I hope Mr. Lidane can find the reason for this poor survey outing.

  • avatar
    SC5door

    93 Intrepid: A/C Died at 85K (Known LH Issue)
    99 Neon: Transmission, Sunroof, Suspension
    01 Stratus: Complete Electrical Meltdown
    02 Dakota: O2 sensor replaced for free by dealer. No other issues.
    04 Neon: Transmission, Radiator, Coil Pack, Suspension Issues, Paint Issues, Gasket Leaks, and never could get it to idle right.
    06 Dakota: Power Steering Issues, Seat Replaced, Suspension Issues

    I honestly like the new Chrysler cars. If I had the room, I’d lease a new Durango, but I wouldn’t own another Chrysler long term at all, not unless it’ would have the Max Care Warranty for 10 years bumper to bumper.

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