Thursday, June 21, 2012

NHTSA Investigating Toyota, Honda, GM Vehicles for Safety Issues

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said Friday it is opening a preliminary investigation into the 2006-08 Toyota RAV4 over rust-related failure of rear tie rods.

The agency has also agreed to review consumer defect petitions claiming problems with the 2005 Honda Pilot and 2007-09 GMC Acadia and Saturn Outlook.
In opening the Toyota investigation, NHTSA said it had received seven complaints of failures for rear suspension arm assembly No.1, typically referred to as a rear "tie rod."
Four of the complaints said the failure occurred while driving at speeds of 35 mph or greater causing a temporary loss of vehicle control.
Pictures show the wheel adjacent to the failed component severely out of wheel alignment with respect to toe and camber.
Separately, NHTSA said it will review a petition requesting investigation of 2008 Saturn Outlook and similar vehicles for loss of low beam headlamp illumination.
The petitioner reported that the wiring harness inside the headlamp assembly of his 2008 Saturn Outlook had overheated and subsequently melted.
NHTSA has received 415 consumer complaints between April 2008 and May regarding this condition in the 2007-09 Saturn Outlook and GMC Acadia.
NHTSA will review the petition and related field data to assess whether a safety defect investigation is warranted.
GM spokesman Alan Adler said the automaker began a Customer Satisfaction Program in December to provide free replacements and reimbursements for previous repairs for complaints of overheating headlamp bulb connectors in 2007-09 model year Saturn Outlook and GMC Acadias.
To date, more than 60 percent of 343,000 vehicles covered in the U.S. program have been repaired. Customers included in the program were notified by letter and have until Dec. 31, 2013, to have service performed free of charge.
NHTSA also said it was reviewing an April petition over alleged failures in stability control in 2005 Honda Pilot vehicles from an Arlington, Mass., woman.
The petitioner alleges that "in the malfunctioning of these systems, steering failures occur and the brakes apply involuntarily."
NHTSA has identified 35 reports, including the petitioner's complaint, that appear to be related to inappropriate stability control system activation in 2005 Honda Pilots.
One complaint said: "We had our 2-year-old and newborn in a car which screeched to an unexpected full stop in the middle of an intersection halfway through a turn."
Inappropriate stability control system activation is typically perceived by the driver as inappropriate autonomous brake application, resulting in unexpected vehicle deceleration, and may also include allegations of steering pull and/or lane departure.
The first incident was reported to NHTSA in 2006. Ten of the incidents have been reported in the last 12 months. NHTSA will decide whether it will open a formal investigation.

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