Recalls of older cars for excess emissions may get more sunlight this year

2012 Jeep Compass

Earlier this month, the EPA announced a voluntary recall by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles of nearly 900,000 older vehicles for excessive emissions. The announcement may have raised eyebrows and prompted a few wagging fingers, but it was hardly new; last year automakers recalled more than 5 million vehicles in 85 separate recalls.

Now, officials from the EPA say that those recalls of older vehicles for excess emissions may be more common and open.

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“(The) EPA is looking to make car owners more aware of emissions recalls so that consumers can get their vehicles fixed. To that end we do intend to publicize recalls more widely in the future,” EPA spokesman Ken Labbe told Green Car Reports on Wednesday.

Automakers routinely retest older cars’ emissions one to four years after they’ve been on sale. A routine test by FCA revealed a defective catalytic converter on older Dodge Journey, Caliber, Avenger; Chrysler 200; and Jeep Compass and Patriot models that could lead to higher emissions. In all, FCA will recall 862,520 vehicles with the faulty emissions hardware to replace those catalytic converters.

Despite the nature of the recall, which is related to excess emissions, it’s not subject to a penalty by the EPA. This year, FCA settled with federal regulators for $800 million in a separate emissions-related recall over its 3.0-liter turbodiesel-powered SUVs and trucks.

READ NEXT: No buybacks: FCA settlement for Ram pickup, Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel owners

This time around, the automaker absorbed the recall cost in a write-down from last year, and began notifying owners in February of this year.

According to the EPA, roughly 1 in 25 vehicles on the road have higher-than-expected emissions and can be recalled by the automaker. The agency tests roughly 150 vehicles each year, but relies on manufacturers to report emissions for roughly 2,000 new cars each year. The EPA tests models owned by customers after they’ve been sold to verify emissions levels that have been reported by car manufacturers.

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