December 21, 2005
SACRAMENTO -- The California Air Resources Board (ARB) announced today it has reached a settlement with DaimlerChrysler Corporation (DCC) to extend warranty coverage for catalytic converters on more than 90,000 light- and medium-duty trucks and vans built between 1996 and 1999. The auto manufacturer also agreed to recall on-board diagnostic (OBD) systems in about 40,000 of these vehicles and to pay $1 million dollars to the ARB.
"Catalytic converters are critical components in the emission control systems of gasoline powered vehicles, and their failure can cause significant increases in air pollution," said Catherine Witherspoon, ARB Executive Officer. "We are pleased that DaimlerChrysler agreed to correct the problems at no cost to its customers."
DaimlerChrysler Corporation models affected by this action include Dodge Ram Pickups, Ram Vans, Dakotas, Jeep Wrangler and Cherokee vehicles equipped with certain 2.5L, 3.9L, 4.0L, 5.2L and 5.9L engines and equipped with catalytic converters that use a ceramic substrate. A faulty mat material designed to surround and support the substrate can fail to hold it in place during normal driving. Drivers of vehicles with defective catalysts may hear a rattling noise coming from beneath the vehicle, the strongest indicator of a damaged catalyst. Other symptoms that may occur include a loss of power, hard engine starting and illumination of the dashboard check engine light.
Warranties on the affected vehicles will be extended to 10 years/120,000 miles or one year from the date of the owner notification letter, whichever provides longer coverage. The original catalytic converter warranty is 7 years/70,000 miles. DaimlerChrysler Corporation will also cover the catalytic converters on these vehicles for two years from the date of the owner notification letter should the owner fail Smog Check as a direct result of a defective original equipment catalytic converter. Owners who suspect they may have a defective catalytic converter can take their vehicles to a dealer for an inspection at no charge. As part of its agreement, DCC will reimburse any owners who paid to have a defective catalytic converter replaced at their own expense.
In addition to the catalyst problem, the on-board-diagnostic systems (OBD) of some of the affected DCC vehicles built between 1996 and 1998 do not properly detect catalytic converter failure. On board diagnostic systems, which are required in all light- and medium-duty vehicles built for sale in California since 1996, alert drivers of possible malfunctioning emission control equipment by illuminating the check engine light. As part of the settlement, DCC is recalling those vehicles with defective OBD systems and will recalibrate their computers with new software. Under the recall, owners can return their vehicles to a local DCC dealership for a simple software download at no expense to the owner.
DaimlerChrysler Corporation is currently in the process of notifying affected vehicle owners of the recall and extended warranty.
More information about this action and other ARB motor vehicle programs can be found at: www.arb.ca.gov or call 1-800-end-smog, 1-800-363-7664.
The Air Resources Board is a department of the California Environmental Protection Agency. ARB's mission is to promote and protect public health, welfare, and ecological resources through effective reduction of air pollutants while recognizing and considering effects on the economy. The ARB oversees all air pollution control efforts in California to attain and maintain health based air quality standards.