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Half-Million 1996-98 Chrysler Minivans Under Recall

Nov 7, 2002 | USA Today

DaimlerChrysler's Chrysler unit is recalling about half a million minivans because of a possibly misplaced part that could cause the vehicles' air bags, horns or cruise control systems to fail.

It is extending the warranty on more than a million more minivans that could have the same problem.

The 500,000 minivans subject to the recall are from the 1996-1998 model years. They sold in the USA, Canada and other markets as Dodge Caravan and Grand Caravan, Plymouth Voyager and Chrysler Town & Country.

Chrysler spokeswoman Angela Spencer Ford said the recall doesn't cover the other 1.3 million minivans from those years because investigations found that the problem tends to show up at around 25,000 miles. The recall captures the minivans on the road with 70,000 miles and under, she said.

For the rest of the minivans, Chrysler will provide a warranty on the suspect part, which provides power to various components in the steering wheel, for the life of the vehicle.

The misplaced part has been linked to one instance in which an air bag failed to deploy in an accident and a person was injured, Chrysler said.

It is the third major recall announced for Chrysler minivans this year.

In January, the automaker said it would begin repairing 1.3 million minivans built from 1996 to 2000 to fix a possible fuel leak linked to fires.

In April, Chrysler said it was recalling 545,000 minivans built from 1996 to October 1998 to fix a piece of sound insulation that could fall into the rear seat-belt assembly.

Chrysler lags General Motors and Ford Motor in quality measurements but has made progress. In the 2001 J.D. Power and Associates Initial Quality Survey, which measures problems in the first three months of ownership, Dodge brand improved to 145 defects per 100 vehicles from 160. Chrysler rose four points to 133; Jeep improved three points to 151. The industry average was 133 defects per 100 vehicles.

Quality improvements reduced warranty costs by 50% from 1996 to 2000, according to Chrysler, and by an additional 21% per unit in the last model year.

In July, Chrysler began marketing a seven-year/70,000-mile warranty on all its vehicles. The warranty can be transferred to subsequent owners of the vehicle. Neither GM nor Ford has matched the offer.

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