It's July 14, 2017 and Chrysler has just issued a recall covering 1.3 million cars and SUVs for a failed alternator and or chafed wiring.
The real story is that they don't seem able or willing to find the root cause of a recall even after years of dealing with the same issue. Take for instance NHTSA recall 14V634000 of October 2014. it's the same recall exactly but it listed the root cause as faulty diodes in the alternator that couldn't handle the electrical load of the electric hydraulic power steering. The new July 14, 2017 recall now says the root cause is a faulty alternator and or chafed wires in the steering column. Back in 2011 I did a video showing a 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee could run without its belt turning the alternator and nothing would show to alert the driver - no light - no gauge - no nothing. The alternator could fail and you'd never know. How is it these things continue to happen? Chrysler isn't the only one playing the public, lots of manufacturers have. It comes down to two things, 1. Money and 2. Government oversight that fails to work even at a basic level.
Money - Chrysler has plenty of good engineers often with experience working for other manufacturers and they do test and find issues AND DO bring them to the attention of the higher ups, so don't blame them, their only fault is they don't have the guts to put their job on the line and in all fairness unless you've done that yourself it's one hell of a hard thing to do. Don't blame the assembly line people either since they do their best to put together poorly fitting parts every day without knowing how well tested any particular part is. The blame goes to the CEO then to the finance and legal departments plain and simple. At the last minute as final costs for a vehicle are firmed up the CEO will contact the finance department and demand a decrease in the vehicle's cost and they don't care which particular part or system has to take a hit. This starts a cascading effect all the way back to the parts manufacturer who most times knows there will be an issue with a cheaper part but is told to make the change regardless, the Takata story is a carbon copy of the process that Chrysler just followed. You do this kind of thing day in and day out for every model every year and you develop what they call a "culture" whereby everyone in the chain starts to cut corners because that's what the boss wants.
Government oversight that fails to work even at a basic level - Even understaffed overworked government investigators would be able to hold Chrysler's feet to the fire once in a while but throw in a heavy dose of politics in and you'll get a swing and a miss every time..
Below is the chronology if the October 2014 recall 14V634000 - You'd think after this recall they would have identified all the years, models and parts affected, but they didn't as is their practice and that's why we have 1.3 million cars recalled today.
•In August, 2014, Chrysler opened an investigation into concerns of alternator-related engine stall while driving, increased steering effort, Antilock Brake System/Electronic Stability Control deactivation or fire / smoke in 2011-2012 MY Dodge Charger vehicles. •Chrysler’s investigation analyzed alternators from vehicles exhibiting these conditions, and found indications of thermal fatigue of the alternators’ silicone diodes. •Based on warranty data analysis, 160 Amp alternator part returns and a common control system design, Chrysler expanded the investigation scope to include WD, WK, LC, and the LX platforms, equipped with Electric Hydraulic Power Steering (“EHPS”), but limited to the 3.6L equipped with a 160 Amp Alternator. •The root cause was determined to be thermal fatigue in the silicon diode within the alternator rectifier bridge, due to a combination of high operating temperatures and cyclical system load conditions, induced by the EHPS. •This condition can lead to failure of the 20 Amp Silicon Rubber potted Diode(s) in the 160 Amp alternator. •Failure mode of the 160 Amp alternators can range from no output, reduced output, or a fully shorted to ground condition. •These modes can have corresponding variability in time to failure and warning to the driver. •During certain low battery voltage conditions associated with the 160 Amp alternator silicon diode thermal fatigue failures, a rapid sequential thermal failure of the silicon diodes may cause engine stalling without the advanced warning provided by prolonged illumination of the “Charging System Indication Lamp” or by the EVIC, the electronic vehicle information center. •Depending on the failure mode and timing, system voltage may drop to critical levels, disabling systems such as the, “Antilock Brake System/Electronic Stability Control”, “Engine Control Module/Central Body Controller”, or a total vehicle electrical system shut down (in the event of a short to ground failure mode).