Auto repairs can be problematic, even if the automaker is footing the bill because of a recall:
When John Fawcett and his wife, Sandra, learned that they were pregnant, he got down to work. He had never owned a car before. In Iqaluit, Nunavut, where the Newfoundland transplant had lived for 12 years, and where a cab any which way costs $7 per trip, owning a car never seemed essential.
But now the 33-year-old was going to be a father.
Fawcett settled on a red 2014 Jeep Cherokee with about 22,000 km on it, and went to the bank to negotiate a $22,000 loan to pay for it. The car was serviced. It was clean, and its new owner was thrilled, until mid-August, when the four-wheel drive with the grey interior abruptly shifted into neutral while he was driving home from work.
This is what your dealership service department would delicately refer to as a “known issue”:
[The Jeep was] under a manufacturer’s recall for four different issues, including what Transport Canada describes on its website as “an unexpected shift to neutral which could result in a loss of motive power, which in conjunction with traffic and road conditions, and the driver’s reactions may increase the risk of a crash.”
Unfortunately, there is no Fiat Chrysler dealership anywhere near Iqaluit: the nearest is in Ottawa. He might as well go to Greenland, which is closer.
The cost of a return flight was $24,000 for a car that cost $22,000. The cost to ship the vehicle, by ship, was closer to $8,000, but came with the caveat that if Fawcett shipped in August he wouldn’t see the Jeep again until the ice broke next spring.
Iqaluit may not have much in the way of roads or foliage, but it does have wireless. Sick of paying for pricey taxis and left with few good options, Fawcett took to harassing the automaker on Twitter, then formed a petition calling on all northerners to boycott FCA products. What followed was a “promising” phone call from a sympathetic-sounding FCA representative named Jessica.
The National Post confirmed Thursday that FCA, Fawcett, and his local garage have struck an agreement. The automaker will fly a certified mechanic to Iqaluit, where winter is closing in fast, to fix that wiring harness and get Fawcett’s life back in gear.
Not that September is all that warm: the average daily high is 41°F and the low is just below freezing.