DETROIT - Frustrated by the high failure rate of components it has been buying and the recalls and service problems they cause, the Chrysler group has begun requiring suppliers to sign contracts that assign specific financial responsibility for the cost of recalls and warranty work.
The requirement goes into effect with 2004 vehicles. The first major vehicle range affected is the LX, the large rear-wheel-drive cars that replace the current Dodge Intrepid, Chrysler Concorde and 300M.
The determination of responsibility before a vehicle goes into production relieves Chrysler of the burden of later having to prove liability for a defect, said Richard Schaum, executive vice president for research and development.
But Schaum said very few suppliers will be liable for 100 percent of the cost of a warranty problem. The exception would be parts designed by a supplier and purchased off the shelf by Chrysler, Schaum said.
For example, he said, there is no reason the makers of commodity parts such as fuel injectors can't give 100 percent assurance that those parts will perform for up to 100,000 miles. But on more complex parts made to Chrysler's specifications, he said, "We should take a share of the responsibility."