Monday, August 27, 2012

St. Jude Defibrillation Leads Recall

The Wall Street Journal (8/27, Weaver, Subscription Publication) reports that patients who are dealing with the recent recall of heart devices from St. Jude Medical Inc. are also facing the potential problem of rising bills as a result of the recall. According to the Journal, physicians are increasingly removing the Riata defibrillation leads from patients due to safety concerns, but the procedure to have them taken out of a patient can be risky and expensive, for the victims of this safety problem. 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

GM Recalls Trailblazer for Fire Hazards

General Motors, Isuzu announce recall.

In continuing coverage, ABC World News (8/19, story 5, 0:30, Muir) reported, "We move on to a consumer alert, General Motor and Isuzu recalling 250,000 SUVs because of a possible short circuit that can cause fires." According to the segment, "the recall includes five models including the Chevrolet Trailblazer from 2006 and 2007." The recall was prompted by concerns that "chemicals that clear roads of snow and ice can get inside the driver's door and short circuit the switches controlling power windows and door locks." To date, 28 fires have been reported, though, no injuries have been linked to the defect.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Toyota Recalls SUVs

Toyota Recalls 878K Vehicles
Drivers say failed rear suspension sent cars, SUVs out of control
Toyota Motor Corp. said Wednesday it is recalling 878,000 vehicles because some drivers say the rear suspension has failed, causing them to lose control.
The recall includes 760,000 2006-2011 RAV4 SUVs and 18,000 2010 Lexus HS 250h cars in the U.S., and comes less than two months after the government opened an investigation into reports of failures in rear tie rods.
An additional 100,000 vehicles, including 99,000 RAV4s, are being recalled in Canada.
Four drivers reported they lost control while driving at high speeds.
Toyota says nine crashes and three minor injuries resulted from the problem.
The Japanese automaker told the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that the problem is not a manufacturing defect, but rather the result of improper tightening of turnbuckle nuts by service technicians.
Toyota said that if the nuts on the rear suspension arm are not tightened properly during a rear wheel alignment, excessive movement may occur at the threaded portion of the arm, followed by rust.
The automaker said it first began receiving reports of the condition in 2008, but didn't detect a "clear trend of failure" and said the failure rate was low. In August 2010, Toyota introduced a new suspension arm on the vehicles.
In August 2011, it inspected 52 vehicles and found that just one, with a history of rear wheel alignments, had loose nuts.
In May, Toyota received a complaint of a customer crash. The automaker inspected the scene of the crash and learned that non-factory applied lubricant had been used, evidence of rear wheel service. The company inspected 25 vehicles in service and found loose nuts on one vehicle.
NHTSA opened its investigation in June.
"Toyota has concluded that this issue is caused by the improper tightening of the lock nut during adjustment of the rear wheel alignment in the field," Toyota told NHTSA.
"However, Toyota decided to conduct a voluntarily safety recall campaign to ensure proper tightening of the lock nuts."
Toyota is developing a fix. Once the remedy is available, the automaker will notify vehicle owners.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Ford Escape Accelerator Problems

The ABC15 Investigators are expanding a probe into a potential safety defect that has the federal government taking action.
Estee Piehl kept the tiny piece of plastic that she says almost ended her life.
“It’s a miracle that we escaped,” she said, holding the cruise control cable from her 2004 Ford Escape.
On April 14, 2010, Piehl was driving her 6-year-old son to soccer practice in Aurora, Colorado outside of Denver, when she accelerated to change lanes. She let her foot off the gas, but her car sped up.
She told her son, “Carson, mommy can’t stop the car. Carson, mommy is trying to stop the car, I’m trying but I can’t stop the car right now.”
“The only thing he said is, ‘Mommy, something’s burning,’” Piehl said. It was her brakes.
Gaining speed down a busy street, she had a quick decision to make – “whether to slam into the back of the cars in front of me going about 65 miles an hour,” she said, “or swerve into the continuing traffic.”
She chose to swerve and narrowly missed the other cars, she said.
Both feet slammed on the brake, she said she managed to slow the car down to about 55 miles per hour.
“Literally, just by the grace of God, there was a left-hand turn lane that was open,” she said, “so I was able to get over.”
Then she did the only thing experts say you can to stop a runaway car: Put it into neutral.
With a less experienced driver, Estee thinks the outcome could have been tragic.
“When this happened to me,” she said, “I specifically said, if this had been a teenager driving that car, they probably would have died.”
On Jan. 27 of this year, 17 year-old Saige Bloom died after her 2002 Ford Escape accelerated out of control and crashed in Payson, Arizona.
The ABC15 Investigators were there as Bill Williams, an inspector hired by the Bloom family, used a small camera on the end of a wire to look under the Escape’s hood for the first time. He claims he found what caused the crash: a damaged cruise control cable.
He says its cover broke, the cable stuck and it forced the throttle open – and the car to travel at very high speeds.
Ford tells ABC15 that the company hasn’t completed its own investigation into what caused the Bloom accident. At this time, no lawsuits have been filed about the Bloom accident.
Read Ford’s full statement on the Bloom accident below.
But Williams says the problem goes beyond Estee and Saige’s Escapes – to any Escape equipped with the same cruise control cable and engine cover design as the 2002-2004 V6 models.
“As long as that car is on the road,” he said, “it’s going to need service.”
The cruise control cable on some Ford Escapes can break too easily, creating the potential for sudden acceleration.
“I know that there’s more out there,” he said, “that are running around with that bind in there, just waiting for the right circumstance to happen.”
A Ford mechanic found the same type of broken cable and stuck throttle under the hood of Estee Piehl’s Escape in Colorado. “Fitting had become wedged due to the inner cable guide being broke,” the mechanic wrote when Piehl brought her car in for service after it accelerated out of control two years ago.
Now the federal government is concerned about the same issue.
After the ABC15 Investigation, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) opened an investigation into V6 engine Ford Escapes and Mazda Tributes for a potential safety defect that could lead to stuck throttles and vehicle crashes.
The agency is investigating 730,000 model year 2001-2004 Escapes and Tributes.
The agency says it found 99 complaints alleging stuck throttles in these SUVs, including 13 crashes, 9 injuries and one death. The complaints the agency is investigating include those of “accelerator cable failure, cruise control cable failure and/or stuck throttles,” according to NHTSA.
The agency has not reached any conclusions in its investigation and Ford tells ABC15, “we are aware of the investigation and we are fully cooperating with NHTSA on it.”
Mazda tells ABC15, “we are cooperating with NHTSA on their investigation and will advise on next steps at an appropriate time.”
The ABC15 Investigators found in complaints posted on NHTSA’s website that some owners of affected Escapes describe similar issues found in both Piehl’s Escape and the one Saige Bloom was driving the day she died.
In California, an owner wrote that “the cruise control cable failed and jammed the throttle cover” in a Ford Escape. In Ohio, another writes, “the cruise control cable was the cause of the failure.”
Estee Piehl’s is one of the 99 complaints cited in NHTSA’s investigation. Hers is case number 10325817.
“The dealer performed a diagnostic test which revealed that the vehicle cruise control cable had broken,” Piehl’s NHTSA complaint says.
Piehl says she’s still amazed that she and her son survived the incident.
“I’m just grateful that he’s going into third grade next year,” she said, “and we lived through it.”