The vehicles are just too old.
That's why the dispute between Chrysler Group and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration over whether to recall 1993-2004 Jeep Grand Cherokees and 2002-07 Jeep Libertys is having no impact on the wholesale prices of those vehicles, dealers and used-vehicle price experts say.
This month, Chrysler startled the industry when it said no to NHTSA's request that the automaker recall the vehicles for an alleged fire risk caused by fuel tanks mounted behind the rear axle.
Steve Landers, who owns Steve Landers Dodge-Chrysler-Jeep in Little Rock, Ark., and regularly attends wholesale auctions, says the recall dispute is no big deal because the used vehicles he buys are typically no more than "4 or 5" model years old. The vehicles in question, he says, are typically found on buy-here, pay-here used-car lots.
"We may get a few but not many," Landers says of the 2007 Liberty, the latest model year cited in the dispute. "We may have two in stock out of 1,400 vehicles."
Ricky Beggs, managing editor of Black Book, says he has seen no impact on prices either and agrees that the vehicles' age has a lot to do with it. He characterizes the recent price movement for used Libertys and Grand Cherokees as "normal."
For example, Black Book data show the average wholesale price of a two-wheel-drive 2004 Liberty Sport declined $150 to $4,525 from May 1 to June 1 and then held unchanged June 3-7.
In the May 1-June 1 timeframe, the average price of a two-wheel-drive 2004 Grand Cherokee Laredo increased $50 to $4,300. The price remained unchanged on June 7.
Black Book adjusts its prices daily based on transaction prices recorded by employees stationed at auction sites around the country.
"It's a nonfactor on later model vehicles and how somebody is going to perceive the brand," Beggs says.
Todd Caputo, owner of Sun Auto Group in suburban Syracuse, N.Y., which includes a Chevrolet store and two large used-car lots, says the disagreement between Chrysler and NHTSA isn't affecting trade-in values, either. Caputo doesn't typically stock vehicles more than 4 years old, but he takes them as trade-ins.
He says: "I'm not taking them for any less now than I would have before, and I still get the same money at the auction when I wholesale them."