• Sep 9, 2008
Automakers want top-notch quality in their vehicles because a good reputation for quality sell more cars. The pleasant side effect of high quality is spending less to repair your own vehicles. Millions of dollars can be saved per one percentage point improvement in warranty costs. Cerberus was quick to crack down on quality woes when it took over Chrysler, and the early fruit of its labor is hundreds of millions of dollars in warranty costs avoided. Chrysler cars and trucks are hitting the dealer less for repairs than before, which has resulted in a 29% drop in warranty claims for the automaker. That's good news for the cash-strapped automaker, and a big reason the privately owned company has earned $1.1 billion since the company's sale. The positive swing in warranty claims means Chrysler can appropriate less money for warranty claims in the future, giving it more money to spend on R&D, engineering, and, hopefully, interiors.

If you're asking yourself, "Aren't Chrysler products close to last in J.D. Power initial quality studies every year?" you're not alone. Chrysler does tend to fare poorly in those surveys, but they concentrate more on things like cup holders, fit and finish, and general interior quality, all of which don't necessarily cost a lot to fix. The Pentastar is going to de-emphasize J.D. Power results going forward, and instead focus on the arguably more influential Consumer Reports rankings. Unfortunately, the Chrysler vehicles haven't fared very well there either, but that can always change. Thanks for the tip, Mike!

[Source: Detroit Free Press, Photo by Scott Olson/Getty]


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  • 28 Comments
      • 6 Years Ago
      Good for them.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Total BS on this article...to quote "and a big reason the privately owned company has earned $1.1 billion since the company's sale." Where on earth does the author get this number?? Chrysler is a private company now and has released NO financial information good or bad. However, those who know the company in the investment industry estimate that the company's LOSSES are in the multiple billions of dollars--thereby leading to the authors statement that the company is "cash-strapped" and the recent end of leasing and bump in dealership financing rates...This author needs to go back to high school....
        • 6 Years Ago
        Chrysler is 20% owned by Daimler-Benz, and the financials for Chrysler since the Cerberus buyout have been reported out in D-B's annual report to shareholders and tax filings to the German Government.
      • 6 Years Ago
      >>> Chrysler obviously still has a way to go with the quality of their vehicles. But this is definitely good news for them and shows they are headed in the right direction.

      Kudos and compliments to the folks at Pentastarland. Keep up the good work!
      • 6 Years Ago
      On what basis is this comment made:

      ""The Pentastar is going to de-emphasize J.D. Power results going forward, and instead focus on the arguably more influential Consumer Reports rankings. Unfortunately, the Chrysler vehicles haven't fared very well there either""

      Chrysler has had many vehicles that get good rating from Consumer reports in recent years. The first generation Liberty as one example, and the PT Crusier which was acknowledged by Consumer Reports a few years back as the single most reliable, problem vehicle ever rated by them.

      This article seems full of anti-Chrysler bias and outdated thinking.
        • 6 Years Ago
        That's funny. It read more like a Chrysler press release to me. I was surprised that the source was actually Detroit Free Press.
      • 6 Years Ago
      If you think Chrysler has their quality act together, check out Inside Line's blog on their long term Dodge Caravan:
      http://blogs.edmunds.com/roadtests/Vehicles/2008DodgeGrandCaravanSXT/
        • 6 Years Ago
        There really is no debate. Chrysler QC is a big problem. Just look at Consumer Reports' Frequency-of-Repair records. There is nothing subjective about them. Consumers report their specific problems.

        That is why Chrysler has now set the very reasonable goal of doing better in CR. Chrysler is upside down now; it has swapped places w/ Hyundai and it's headed for the basement, likely to take 6th place soon.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Yet a Canadiandriver long term tester had no such gripes. I know 3 people, all with Honda's, all with problems, all VERY dissatisfied, all who TRUSTED such publications in their purchase.

      It's not the norm - and that goes for both the Dodge and the Honda. Problems happen, but sometimes one side is publicized more - if only because of it's history in the marketplace.

      At the end of the day, you buy what you want, and you roll with the punches. Do-it-yourself guys will always buy one, those affraid of the world will LEASE the other.
        • 6 Years Ago
        I've owned nothing but Chryslers, Dodges, Plymouths and Jeeps over the past 20+ years. They have all been very good vehicles, so much so that the hype I hear about the high quality of imports turns to disappointment when I've rented or ridden in comparably priced vehicles. I just don't get the hype.
        I've always found features that distinguish the Chryslers from the rest.

        Try to find another vehicle with comparable features and the capability of a Wrangler at the same price.

        The same can be said with the minivans.

        To a certain extent, the same can be said for the Caliber/Compass/Patriot. When critics feel like putting them in the compact-car class with the Corollas and Civics, how many others in the class offer all-wheel drive (exception: Subarus and Suzukis). This, of course changes when the critics feel like putting them in the CUV category (pick a category please!) where the Patriot is the only one that offers lockable 4-wheel drive and off-road capability.

        All of my Chryslers have given me practical and useful features and great reliability at a reasonable price. And it's why I keep coming back. I'm almost certain they don't make them good just for little ol' me! :-)

        I'm looking forward to the next one. But I don't anticipate needing a new one anytime soon.
        • 6 Years Ago
        I dunno, I rented a Chrysler Town and Country to drive my friends around one spring break and it was the most pathetic vehicle I've ever driven (and I've driven plenty, both domestic and foreign). I was ridiculously surprised to see a good review of the car in the Wall Street Journal, but it's sad to say that the Edmunds long term tester experience is a lot closer to what I got.
        • 6 Years Ago
        I have owned a couple Dodges, a couple Toyotas, a Kia, a Honda, and a Mazda.

        Far and away the Dodges were the most problem-prone and their customer service was(is) abysmal in comparison to all the others.

        Chrysler is one sick puppy.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I have never heard of oil burning .. except with the late 80s Mits engines, which ran great up to a certain mileage.

      Neon engine was designed in partnership with BMW via Bob Lutz. Until the most recent generation of BMW Mini .. that car ran a smaller, but souped up version, of the same engine (proof of it's hardy design).

      I have never heard of oil burning with Chryslers. I'm amazed by the propaganda out there.

      The truth is all cars are darn well build these days. The Korean's are putting out quality stuff now, and the Chinese are the next ones to enter the market and no doubt will catch up with the other companies in probably surprising short order.
      • 6 Years Ago
      This is great for them, considering the lifetime powertrain warranty.

      About the JD Power results and the term "fare poorly:"

      Like someone pointed out before, the brand at the bottom of the list scored 167 problems per 100 vehicles, while the brand at the top of the list scored 87 problems per 100 vehicles. This means that the bottom brand had LESS THAN 2 PROBLEMS more than the top brand per 100 vehicles. Considering that the respondents can complain about anything from an engine that won't start to an ashtray cover that doesn't open smoothly (each counting equally as 1 problem), those are pretty tight results from the top to the bottom! Using that perspective, no one brand is scoring significantly better or worse than the other brands. It underscores the fact that there isn't really that much difference in quality among the brands. Likewise, the subjective use of phrasing such as "fare poorly" when reporting such issues distorts this truth and leads -- maybe with some pre-conceived notions and possible agendas in mind -- to such extreme descriptions by some consumers and posters about what, in the recent past of all manufacturers, consitutes "high quality" and "junk," the use of such extreme terms (undeservedly in most cases), and the difference between the two.

      The fact of the matter is that, over the past few decades in this evolving marketplace, no manufacturer of ANY product can continue to produce "junk" or goods that "fare poorly" over any continuous period of time and continue to be in business to this day.

      Congratulations Chrysler. May your fortunes continue to improve.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Though Dodge customer service is really crappy, the current vehicle I have (a Sprinter 3500) is good quality. But the chassis was imported from Germany and Dodge didn't prepare it well; there were lots of initial problems.

        The last new Chrysler I had before this was a Grand Caravan. Many, many problems over 30,000 miles. I sold it at that point and took a HUGE hit.
      • 6 Years Ago
      >>The Pentastar is going to de-emphasize J.D. Power results going forward
        • 6 Years Ago
        Good. I think they all should ignore the JD Powers surveys. They are more about customer satisfaction than actual quality.
      • 6 Years Ago
      ummm...if sales are down 30% is this an improvement shown as an adjusted average or just a total which wouldn't really be much of an improvement at all?

      Just asking...
      • 6 Years Ago
      Good news for Chrysler. Jim Press has obviously changed the focus to improving whatever Consumer Reports looks at -- which is probably good as the public perception follows that magazines perceptions a lot.
      • 6 Years Ago
      It's "Chrysler vehicles breaking down 29 % less than before".
      There might be no master in english,but at least try to edit.
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