Monday, October 28, 2013

Recalls becoming more common even as vehicle safety improves.

The Automotive News (10/28, Nelson, Beene, 188K) reports that while experts agree the vehicles today are safer than every before, “recalls remain a persistent and costly reality, with repair tabs that likely total in the tens of billions of dollars each year.” The News notes that last year there were 154 recalls, affecting 14.2 million vehicles. While recalls can be very expensive, protracted crises of past years have become rare due to more proactive automakers and the TREAD Act. Meanwhile, the NHTSA has issued requirements that automakers make recall notices “more official-looking and, by next summer, set up a searchable online database for customers to see whether their vehicles have been recalled.” NHTSA Administrator David Strickland said in a July interview that the agency must reassess a potential risk “if state of the art moves all the peers in one direction, and it appears that there is another part of the fleet that has not made those same moves or improvements.”
        So far this year, 143 recalls of cars and light trucks. According to the Automotive News (10/27, 188K), it turns out that in this year so far, automakers have issued “143 recalls in the 273 days through September,” or one “practically every other day,” which all told affect around “18.5 million cars and light trucks – well more than the number of new vehicles sold.” Also of note, the article observes that year-on-year recall numbers can vary, but grouped by decade “the numbers have climbed steadily.” The article clarifies as well that its figures come from its own “analysis of nearly a half century’s worth of data” from NHTSA.
        Nissan recalling 150,000 vehicles. The website for KABC-TV Los Angeles (10/25, 175K) reports that “more than 150,000 Nissan vehicles are being recalled” because, at times, on rough roads gently applying the brakes does not engage the “antilock brake software,” increasing the risk of a crash. The automaker said it “will notify owners of the issue,” and the article describes the recall vehicles as “certain model year 2013-2014 Pathfinder vehicles manufactured April 18, 2012 through Sept. 20, 2013; model year 2013 Infiniti JX35 vehicles manufactured Sept. 5, 2011 through Jan. 16, 2013; and model year 2014 Infiniti QX60 vehicles manufactured Jan. 17, 2013 through Sept. 20, 2013.”

NHTSA investigation looking into Jeep Liberty fires.

Following two reported incidents of 2012 Jeep Liberty SUVs catching fire in the driver’s side doors, the AP (10/25) reports that a spokesperson for Chrysler, Eric Mayne, “said Chrysler is cooperating with NHTSA and is conducting its own investigation. NHTSA investigations often lead to vehicle recalls.” According to the article, both incidents “began in the area of the master power window switch.”

        Reuters (10/25) also reports, saying that NHTSA’s Office of Defects Investigation began a preliminary probe to analyze the scope and severity of the problem, which the article notes often develops into some sort of recall.

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