Washington — Fiat Chrysler Automobiles US LLC is recalling nearly 900,000 vehicles that don't meet U.S. emission standards, so it can replace their catalytic converters.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced Wednesday that Fiat Chrysler is voluntarily recalling 862,520 cars as a result of "in-use emissions investigations" conducted by both the agency and the company. Those investigations, designed to measure the effectiveness of emission control systems in cars after some time on the road, revealed the vehicles were not meeting federal emission standards. 

Fiat Chrysler said in a statement the EPA announcement "reflects a new policy for announcing routine emissions recalls."

"This campaign has no safety implications. Nor are there any associated fines," FCA spokesman Eric Mayne said in an email. "This issue was discovered by FCA during routine in-use emissions testing and reported to the agency. "We began contacting affected customers last month to advise them of the needed repairs, which will be provided at no charge."  

The recall covers the following vehicles:

  • 2011-2016 Dodge Journey (front-wheel drive)
  • 2011-2014 Chrysler 200 / Dodge Avenger (front-wheel drive)
  • 2011-2012 Dodge Caliber (front-wheel drive, CVT transmission)
  •  2011-2016 Jeep Compass/Patriot (front-wheel drive, CVT transmission)

The fix for the recalled cars involves replacing the catalytic converters. FCA said it is planning to recycle precious metals from old converters. 

The recall will be conducted in phases, beginning with the 2011 model in the first quarter of 2019. Model-year 2012 vehicles will be recalled in the second quarter, 2013-2014 in the third quarter and 2015-2016 vehicles in the fourth quarter. 

“EPA welcomes the action by Fiat Chrysler to voluntarily recall its vehicles that do not meet U.S. emissions standards,” EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said in a statement “We will provide assistance to consumers navigating the recall and continue to ensure that auto manufacturers abide by our nation’s laws designed to protect human health and the environment.”

The EPA tests vehicles usually between one and seven years old to investigate the effectiveness of the vehicle’s emissions control systems over a "120,000- to 150,000-mile useful life," at its National Vehicle and Fuel Emissions Laboratory in Ann Arbor. Automakers also conduct additional testing on their own. 

The recall follows a recent settlement reached by EPA and Fiat Chrysler to settle allegations from federal regulators that the company used software on about 104,000 diesel-powered pickups and SUVs that is similar to “defeat devices” that were used by Volkswagen AG to cheat U.S. emissions-testing.  

That settlement, which is unrelated to Wednesday's recall of vehicles with gasoline engines, requires Fiat Chrysler to pay $280 million to compensate drivers of Jeep Grand Cherokees and Dodge Ram 1500 pickups from the 2014-2016 model years with 3-liter V-6 diesel engines.

The company also will pay $305 million in civil penalties to the EPA, U.S. Department of Justice and California Air Resources Board and at least $72 million to states whose attorneys general had sued over the alleged cheating.

Drivers of the affected models could receive as much as $2,800 each under the settlement. 

FCA was not required to admit any wrongdoing as part of the settlement and the company is not required to buy back any of the affected vehicles.

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Twitter: @Keith_Laing

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