Quality Problem in Dodge Motors Company
Vehicle manufacturers have the responsibility of ensuring quality in all their products. A small error or compromise may lead to fatal accidents in various parts of the market. Dodge Company is one of the oldest vehicle manufacturers; however, it is also known to have the highest number of cases when it comes to quality assurance. Some of the problems that have arisen with the various car models include faulty airbags, sharp metal inflators inside airbags with potential to cause harm during deployment, engines that stall or stop by themselves when vehicles reduce speed, gear box that refuse to engage from parking as well as poor finishing of various parts of the vehicle. All these cases have been reported by various customers; however, the reaction by management has always been denial of quality problems. In some cases, the company has been forced to recall some of the models in order to fix the problems. In some cases, the company has refused to make repairs by putting all the blame to the customers. A serious change of management, especially in the quality department and how the department reacts to the reports must be fast-tracked for the company to regain customer confidence.
Safety of the motor vehicle is an important aspect that all automobile manufacturers consider before releasing their products (J. D. Power Reports 2). A small error may lead to a number of serious problems that turn fatal for the customers. Dodge Motor Company is one of the American automobile manufacturers with various car models in the market (Gunnell 23). However, it is also known to have some of the serious quality problems than any of the car manufacturers in the US. The company has changed ownership in various occasions in a bid to assure customers of their safety by involving a winning team; nevertheless, nothing has been forthcoming. Apparently, some of the quality problems in this company come from the poor decisions made by the management, as well as denial of the existing problems. This paper looks into quality problem in Dodge Motors Company, looking into the various quality issues and the response by the management team.
Dodge Motors Company
Dodge is a brand founded in 1900 by Horace Elgin Dodge and John Francis Dodge who were brothers. This brand is manufactured as a subsidiary of the FCA US LLC (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles) that manufactures a range of automobiles like cars, SUVs (Sports Utility Vehicles) and the minivans, with prices ranging from low to high. Initially, the Dodge brothers founded the Dodge Brothers Company as a supplier of the vehicle parts as well as the assembly shop at Michigan (Hyde 28). However, the factory grew to include manufacturer of full range vehicles by 1914 under a name labeled as the “Dodge Brothers” (Gunnell 3). After the death of Horace Elgin Dodge and John Francis Dodge, the company was bought by other entities like the Chrysler in 1928. In early 1900s, Dodge vehicles mainly consisted of trucks and large passenger vehicles; however, the company made some progress in terms of the growth in the manufacture of small cars.
The global oils crisis in 1973 led to a number of negative consequences to the US economy, not sparing the automobile industry. Dodge, under the name Chrysler, had no option but to come up with strategies to survive the crisis (Hyde 29). One of the methods employed was the diversification into compact to midsize cars in a bid to encourage sales and revenue for the manufacturer. This program, under the name, K- Platform helped in reviving the operations of the company in order to survive the impact of oil crisis. Dodge Caravan was one of the models the company came up with during this period.
Dodge brand has stood up and survived many ownership challenges during its existence. The sale to Chrysler was the first change of ownership, followed by the merger with Daimler-Benz AG, an arrangement that only lasted 12 years, followed by another sale to Cerberus Capital Management after the flop of the previous deal (Tom 1). The company underwent serious financial challenges that almost paralyzed all manufacturing operations in 2009, until the US government came to its aid by bailout. The conditions did not improve after that, leading to the declaration of bankruptcy under chapter 11 of the constitution, before the purchase by the Fiat. The merger with Fiat led to the change of name to FCA (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles) in order to incorporate operations of the two companies into a single unit (Gunnell 12).
Dodge has been able to come up with various numbers of models in order to keep up with the current competition in the industry. However, the company has not been able to make much progress, thanks to the inefficiencies in the management of various issues that arise. K-Cars and minivans are some of the best developments made by the company during the 1980s. The company took an opportunity in order to manufacture high volume of minivans under the name, Dodge Caravan, brands that are still popular to date. Late 1980s and early 1990s marked a period when Dodge came up with various sporty models that were meant to attract people who like comfort and class in the society (Hyde 28). Some of these models are Daytona, Dodge Spirit, the Omni, and the Viper, among others.
The company first ventured into sports utility vehicles (SUVs) in 1950s by manufacturing Town Wagon, a model that did not perfectly look sporty. Later, the company, in a bid to come up with more sporty vehicles came up with Ramcharger, a model with a powerful engine that could compete with other models like Ford Bronco and Chevrolet Blazer. However, the automobile registered tremendous growth in technology in the 1980s, a condition that Dodge could not keep up with. This means that the company remained behind in terms of making improvements to its existing models at the time. Ramcharger was the main model until redesign and the manufacture of Durango SUV with four doors. This was a larger car that introduced a new niche in to the market. It is important to note that Dodge vehicles are available in other international market like Asia, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Australia, Europe and Mexico.
Quality Problem Definition
Dodge is an important brand with sales within the US as well as in international market; however, quality of the products has become a problem over the years. Many complaints are reported each year on the various components of the Dodge brands, especially within the US market. It seems that the merger between Fiat and Chrysler in order to come up with quality products have not been able to fix quality issues in the company (Tom 1). Consumer reviews play an important role into understanding how a given product fares in the market. On the same note, it also gives information to the potential customers on the general performance of the product, especially out of the experience from other users. Customer reviews have constantly put Dodge’s rating at the lowest each year, owing to the defects experiences by car owners.
On the same note, the problem is in the manner in which some of the quality problems have been handled by the management. Some customer’s report of the delays in responding to the defects spotted in Dodge vehicles; sometimes the people concerned blaming car owners for causing the problems. Annual survey by Consumer Report is always an import document that influences decisions of potential customers. Therefore, quality problems experienced with the company’s cars in one of the reasons for less preference by consumers. Managing this situation will help in promoting the products by winning consumer confidence (J. D. Power Reports 2). Below are some of the quality problems in Dodge vehicles, leading to the occasional recall by the company for repairs or compensations (Tom 1)
2016 Dodge Viper’s Airbags
2016 Dodge Viper is the latest model of the cars manufactured by the company. However, with less than a year of sales and operations, the company has announced a recall of the vehicles in order to fix the problem. The 2016 Dodge Viper was discovered to have defective vibration weld at the passenger’s seat, a condition that can cause airbag’s door to come out during an incident. This condition may lead to fatality to the passenger when the air bag requires deployment but instead detaches. All affected customers are expected to report to the designated dealers in order to have their vehicles fixed. On the same note, the driver’s frontal airbag has been found to be pinching by the wires, a condition that may lead to the failure of deployment. All of these 2016 Dodge Viper cars were manufactured between January and June 2016. The company intends to replace the defects free of charge by the designated dealers.
2010 Dodge Caliber
The company discovered that the Occupant Restraint Control (OCR) module of a number of its 2010 –2014 models had problems that required urgent attention. It was found that The Occupant Restraint Control (OCR) module could easily short circuit in a way that could prevent the frontal airbag from functioning in case of an incident like a crash. The problem also affects seatbelt pretensions and side airbags on the same manner as the frontal airbags. Customers have complained of the side airbags becoming disabled in most of the occasions when a crash occurs, this is a problem that risks the lives of the occupants of the Dodge vehicles. The company has been forced to make a recall of the affected cars in order to rectify the defects noted by the customers (J. D. Power Reports 1).
Avenger Engine Failure
The 2011 Avenger engine has been reported to shut off whenever the vehicle is slowing down or is on idle mode. According to customers, the problem occurs randomly and without prior warning, something that cases inconveniences to the users. Coincidentally, the problem has also affected other models like the 2011 Chrysler 200 that shares the same engine model. In some cases, after the engine is switched off, restarting becomes a problem. According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), an investigation to the engine failure at odd places like junctions found not computer coding that indicated software failures. One customer notes that he had a brand new Chrysler 200 S that started to shut off whenever he slowed down. The problem has occurred four times, one of them across a rail road. At the beginning, many customers thought of battery failure or CAM sensors; however, the number of cases increased to an extent that the NHTSA could no longer ignore it.
Gear Shift Problems in Pack Mode
Many Dodge customers were left frustrated by the faulty gears that could not shift when on parking mode, meaning that gear fails to either shift to drive or reverse. It seems the gear designs may have been made from cheaper material parts that fail to work properly. As much as there were no major lawsuits on this matter, it was an indicator of the failure in quality control during the manufacturing process of the vehicles.
Early Wearing Brakes
Dodge has produced of the best and large SUVs; however, the failure has been spotted on the thin brake pads that ware out earlier than expected. Their models are large in weight, something that leads to their wearing out of the brake pads while the vehicles are still brand new. Many of the customers have spent more money into repairs and replacement of the worn out brake pads. The problem has affected Dodge Journey model, with many customers complaining of having to replace brake pads and rotors after only covering less than 12,000 miles on the road. The company never announced a recall; however, the management came up with a redesign that could replace the weak ones. Vehicles with existing warranties have to be taken to the dealers for necessary replacements.
Takata Airbags Explode
Dodge airbags have metal inflators inside them that easily explodes whenever the airbags are diploid, causing injuries to the occupants. This problem has led to more than 10 deaths as well as more than 200 injuries. Airbag is an important component of a car that is meant to protect the occupants; however, it turns out that it is the source of danger to the same occupants by throwing a sharp metal. More than 23 million airbags had to be recalled in order to make replacements for the safety of the cars and occupants.
Dodge and FCA US LLC has faced numerous challenges in coming out with measures that ensure quality of the manufactured vehicles. Nevertheless, it has become a challenge to ensure quality in most of the products. Customer complaints have been on the rise, with the management failing to look into some of them. This company has been known to have impeccable marketing strategy that entails using convincing salespersons in order to make sales. Their assure customers of the quality and efficiency of the vehicles bought, only to find out certain defects on the same (Hunter 2). Some of the customers have been very unsuspecting, easily falling prey to the sales tactics that turn problematic soon after the purchase. Such customers may be in desperate situations in need of a car and without much market research, they make purchases. In most of the cases, the company has responded to the quality issues by making recalls, in an attempt to rectify the problems. Other measures have involved redesigning of the components and availing them into the market for the customers to make own arrangements for repairs and purchases.
FCA US LLC has made numerous calls on its various models found to have certain quality issues. The problem of stalling engines is a serious quality issue that compromises the safety of the vehicle and its occupants. The company worked hard to identify the problem, doing investigations in order to come up with the solutions. It is unfortunate that some of the problems are always identified by the customers themselves, in the process of suing the cars. Thousands of recalls have been made in the last few years in order to rectify the problems in questions. The challenge with recalls comes from the fact that it can only be made after an investigation have been made, something that the company can only embark on after numerous complaints, some of which are fatal.
After the company identifies and accepts the quality problems, they make announcements of the issue at hand, informing car model owners to report to the various agents for the repairs. Warranty plays an important role in some of the issues at hand; in most cases, vehicles with warranty get the problems fixed for free. However, the problems have to be reported in order to warrant the due attention. The first step entails calling the company to report the problem before getting to go ahead to book an appointment with the authorized mechanics or agents for the repairs. As noted before Dodge quality problems have led to the numerous recalls in order to rectify stalling engines of the 2011 Avenger and 2011 Chrysler 200 engines, a task that involved a software fix that could monitor the changes within the engine when on idle mode. The airbag problem has been a serious quality challenge for the company, leading to the numerous recalls that covered 2016 Dodge Viper model with airbags that could easily explode when deployed to fixing the metal inflators that could easily cause danger to the car occupants during deployment.
The company works tirelessly to ensure that investigations are done in an organized manner in order to establish the reasons behind failures. In most of the cases, Dodge technical team comes up with certain redesigns in an attempt to rectify the quality problems. For instance, the brake problem of the Dodge Journey SUV model was discovered after numerous complaints of early wearing of the brake pads and the shafts. After finding out the pads were thin and could not keep up with the huge and heavy nature of the car, the company made a redesign of the same and offering to make replacements in all affected vehicles. Vehicles with active warranty enjoyed the replacements in the various authorized mechanic garages for free. The redesign ensured that the replacements were available in the market for all model owners to access. On the same note, various redesigns have been made out of the complaints from the customers, something that has helped the company make certain improvements of the existing designs.
Quality problems in Dodge vehicle models are a perennial issue that has kept coming up. The management has had to make numerous changes in the quality assurance department in an attempt to come up with better products. However, changes in the quality assurance department have never helped in overcoming the challenge. The company does not participate in any customer review, something that makes it difficult to come up with instant replies to the customer reviews. According to the online reviews, many of the customers complain of laxity in addressing some of the complaints on the quality problems (Hunter 1). In most cases, customers complain of situations where the company looks for scapegoats in order to put the blame on customers. This means that some of the isolated cases that may not be large scale in nature may sometimes go unnoticed by the management.
Addressing quality issues is an important aspect making gains towards the company’s growth. On the same note, safety if vehicles are an important point to consider when designs is made by the technical persons. In fact, proper management requires that the production process entails proper verifications and testing in order to avoid the failures once the products are released in to the market. Proper testing helps in investigating all aspects of the models in a way that identifies some of the weaknesses that may arise in future. On the contrary, it has become apparent that Dodge vehicles keep registering dismal performances when it comes to the consumer satisfaction.
The Role of National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has the responsibility to ensure safety of all the vehicles within the US roads. Most of the cases are reported to them in order to assess the causes of problems at hand. This body interacts with the happenings on daily basis, making them an important entity when it comes to the quality assurance of the automobile products. In most cases, customers complain of laxity by the Dodge Company whenever some of the quality queries are raised. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has the responsibility of monitoring some of the occurrences on a day to day basis, especially when vehicles crash or stall on the streets (Hunter 1). The body also does preliminary investigations in order to assess a given issue, comparing the various incidences in different parts of the market.
Most of the quality issues from the Dodge have been exposed by the customers who report the incidences to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, who then conducts investigations in order to come up with veracity of the situation. The fact that Dodge do not participate in consumer reviews, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration compels the company to make necessary adjustments in order to rectify the situation. This body recommends some of the changes that must be made by the company in order to keep people safe from the quality challenges. On this note, it is important for the company to work closely with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in order to identify and deal with quality issues in time. The role played by this body cannot be downplayed since they interact with the daily occurrences on the roads and records the same for statistical issues. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has also been important in forcing the management to recalls in order to rectify the quality problems.
Filing complaints is a necessary part of reporting quality problems with vehicles. Since Dodge vehicles are sold in many parts of the nation, online platforms have come in order to ensure proper records are in place. Most of the customers report lack of follow up of the problems that are reported directly. Therefore, online reporting has helped find out the extent of the problems with different models in order to find solutions. Some customers complain of reporting problems with their brand new Dodge cars; however, the management fails to make quick follow up in order to rectify the issues (Hirsh & Unredcoffler 1). The management, in most of the cases blames customers of contributing to the car problems, an attitude that makes them behave sluggish when it comes to rectifying the situation.
The online platforms are full of the reported cases, with customers making reviews of some of the model made by the company. These sites ensure that the proper channel is used when it comes to reporting the cases by advising and directing the complainants to the relevant entities. Some of the institutions that stand out in this process are the Centre for Auto Safety (CAS), an entity made up of researchers who look at the safety complaints and make decisions as per their researches on the reported safety issues. This body has the ability to compel the US Government to make certain changes through various means, including lawsuits. Another body is National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that has been discussed above. This is a US agency with the authority to conduct vehicle investigations as per the cases at hand. Depending on their finding, they can order for recall of the affected models owned by consumers. They have made efforts to ensure that Dodge Company rectifies some of the quality problems over the years (Hirsh & Unredcoffler 1).
Dodge Company Response
As noted above, customer reviews indicate lack of proper coordination by the management when it comes to responding to the complaints. Some of the recalls have always been forced by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Most of the customer reviews indicate some of the inefficiencies by the company’s management. The extent of the problems in the company has always warranted the recall of the affected. In many occasions, especially after the merger in 1998, many customers had hope of better models that would ensure no previous quality problems. The situation has never changed, with the later models developing other problems. Other measures that the management came up with included the developing car models that cut cost of production in order to offer products that were affordable. Nevertheless, all these efforts have not helped when it comes to the quality assurance. In numerous, occasions, the consumer ratings of motor vehicles from this company have indicated dismal performance. Customers are not satisfied with the products and services provided by the company, prompting changes in the management, especially in the quality assurance department.
It is apparent that the quality problem in Dodge Company has been there for many years, owing to the many recalls and complaints in the public domain. Rather than the quality issues, the company has also been known to offer poor services, especially when customers complaints. Quality problems had been reported prior to the 1998 merger with Fiat, a move that was to help offer some leadership out of the problem. Nevertheless, there has been no change since, as seen in the many complaints and subsequent recalls by the company (Smith 1). After the merger, the company management has come up with numerous stylish designs in order to attract more customers. However, there may have been no attempt to come up with measures that seek to deal with the problems.
There is need to come with production system that easily tests and identifies all possible scenarios of the products once released into the market. The management may have been obsessed by producing cheaper vehicles while ignoring quality, safety and services of the products. The main problems comes from the fact that the management continues to deceive customers by covering up some of the life threatening defects of the cars like faulty seatbelts, airbags, engines, brake pads and even gear box. The company also refuses to recall vehicle models in order to fix some of the obvious quality problems in the market. Instead, the management refuses to accept responsibility and opting to blame customers whenever they can. There is need for the management to come up with proper car models that have been tested and found to be safe. On the same note, there is need for the management to take responsibility for the failures, recall and fix some of the problems (Hirsh & Unredcoffler 1; Smith 2). If possible, there should be some changes in the technical and design teams of the company in order to monitor the situation.
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