Friday, January 30, 2015

Honda investigating sixth Takata airbag death.

In continuing coverage of Takata Corp.’s exploding airbags, The AP (1/29) reports that Honda is investigating a crash that occurred on January 18 in Houston in which the driver of a 2002 Honda Accord “was found unconscious” in the vehicle following a minor two-car crash. The AP reports that the victim, identified as Carlos Solis, was killed “when an air bag inflated and sent shrapnel into his neck,” according to Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL). Christina Garza, a spokeswoman for the Harris County Sheriff’s Office in Texas, said that the deputy responding to the accident “observed [Solis] had a large open wound to his neck.” In a statement, Honda said that the model involved in the accident had been recalled in 2011, but repairs had not been made on Solis’ vehicle; the automaker “urged anyone with a vehicle recalled for air bag problems to take cars to dealers as soon as possible.”
        Bloomberg News (1/29, Plungis, Green, Fisk, 2.94M) reports that a lawsuit filed by the Solis family against Honda, Takata, and the dealership from which the vehicles was purchased alleges that the incident was the result of a “relatively minor collision resulting in minimal damage to both vehicles.” In a statement, Honda Executive Vice President Tetsuo Iwamura said the automaker “will try to facilitate the recall and improve the ratio of cars fixed.” Takata also released a statement on the incident, saying, “We are working in close collaboration with Honda to determine the facts and circumstances surrounding the vehicle’s status at the time of the incident. Takata’s number one priority is the safety of the driving public.”
        The Detroit (MI) News (1/29, Shepardson, 577K) reports that Honda notified the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration about the event, and claimed, “We are currently working with representatives of the driver’s family to gain the access necessary to conduct a comprehensive investigation.” The news reports NHTSA spokesman Gordon Trowbridge “said the agency was awaiting information from Honda,” but he “encouraged all car owners to go to and enter their vehicle’s vehicle identification number to check for outstanding recalls — and for owners who receive recall notifications from manufacturers to get repairs made.”
        A second article in the Detroit (MI) News (1/29, Shepardson, 577K) reports that a “bipartisan group of U.S. senators led by the top Republican and Democrat on the Commerce Committee reintroduced” the Motor Vehicle Safety Whistleblower Act on Thursday which would “give automotive sector employees incentives to sound the alarm on vehicle defects.” Sen. John Thune (R-SD), the chairman of the Commerce Committee, said “Ensuring the safety of American motorists is a priority, but the public’s trust has been shaken due to the record number of recalls this past year,”noting, “There is much more work that needs to be done.”
        Additional coverage was provided by the New York (NY) Times (1/30, Tabuchi, Subscription Publication, 9.97M), the Los Angeles (CA) Times (1/30, Hirsch, 3.49M), Bloomberg News (1/30, 2.94M), USA Today (1/29, Woodyard, 10.32M), NBC News (1/30, 3.76M), and Reuters (1/30, Lienert). 

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Ford issues recalls for 221,000 vehicles.

The AP (1/29) reports that Ford issued two recalls for 221,000 total vehicles. The first recall included 205,000 2010-2013 Ford Taurus, Lincoln MKS, and its Police Interceptor models over concerns that “a door latch spring can become unseated, allowing the door to unlatch in a side-impact crash.” The second covered 16,000 2014 Transit Connect small vans because the “seat belt fasteners can loosen.” The AP reports that Ford says it is not aware of any crashes or injuries caused by either defect. 

Nissan issues two recalls for 640,000 US vehicles.

The New York (NY) Times (1/29, Jensen, Subscription Publication, 9.97M) reports that Nissan has issued two recalls for almost 640,000 vehicles in the US. The Times says that the first recall is for 469,000 2008-2013 Rogues because “a mixture of snow and water and salt” could “seep into the carpet,” which could then “reach an electrical connection, causing a short and potentially ‘a thermal incident.’” The Times reports that the automaker also recalled 171,000 SUVs, including the 2013-14 Nissan Pathfinder, 2014 Pathfinder Hybrid, 2013 Infiniti JX35, and 2014 Infiniti QX60 and QX60 Hybrid because “a cable for a secondary hood latch is too short and could prevent it from latching,” potentially allowing the hood to open while the SUV is being driven.
        Bloomberg News (1/29, 2.94M) reports that the worldwide figures for the two recalls reached 768,000, as 552,135 Rogues were recalled around the world along with 215,789 SUVs.

        Reuters (1/29) and the AP (1/28) also report. 

GM rebuffs push to again extend ignition compensation claim deadline.

The Wall Street Journal (1/29, Bennett, Subscription Publication, 5.67M) reports that GM rejected a request from Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D) and Edward Markey (D) to again extend the claim deadline for their ignition switch compensation fund. GM said in a statement, “Our goal is to be just and timely in compensating the families who lost loved ones and those who suffered physical injury. We have conducted extensive outreach about the program. We previously extended the deadline until January 31, and we do not plan another extension.” 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Nissan Recalls Nearly 640,000 U.S. Cars: Nissan Pathfinder, Rogue, Infiniti JX35, QX60

Nissan North America has issued two separate recalls affecting nearly 640,000 Nissan and Infiniti owners in the U.S. One of the recalls is meant to fix a potential fire hazard, the other, a faulty hood latch that could cause an accident.


This recall stems from a potential electrical short in a wiring harness manufactured by Sumitomo Electric Industries. The harness is located along the floor beside the driver's seat. According to documents posted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:

"A mixture of snow/water and salt carried onto the driver side floor area (by shoes or other means) can seep into the carpet near the harness connector area and eventually cause an electric short to occur.... This short may lead to connector damage, and in rare instances, could potentially cause a thermal incident."

(In this case, "thermal incident" means "fire", among other things.)

The recall is slightly limited in scope, affecting Nissan Rogue vehicles built between March 7, 2007 and November 26, 2013, as well as Nissan Rogue Select vehicles built between September 23, 2013 and July 2, 2014.

Nissan has told dealers about the problem but hasn't yet announced when it will begin mailing recall notices to owners. When it does, though, owners will be able to take their vehicles to a Nissan dealer, who will inspect the kick panel wiring harness connector and replace it, if necessary -- adding a new, waterproof seal -- at no charge.


In the vehicles listed above, NHTSA says that a component made by Geocom may have been incorrectly manufactured. As a result, one of the latches that keeps the hood closed may not work properly, making it possible for the hood to pop open while the vehicle is in motion. As you might guess, that could increase the risk of an accident.

The recall affects Nissan and Infiniti vehicles manufactured on the following dates:

2013-2014 Nissan Pathfinder vehicles built from June 20, 2012 to November 18, 2013
2014 Nissan Pathfinder Hybrid vehicles built from July 18, 2013 to November 18, 2013
2013 Infiniti JX35 vehicles built from November 29, 2011 to June 14, 2013
2014 Infiniti QX60 vehicles built from May 16, 2013 to November 18, 2013
2014 Infiniti QX60 Hybrid vehicles built from July 18, 2013 to November 18, 2013
Nissan and Infiniti dealers know about the issue, but the automaker hasn't told NHTSA when it will mail recall notices to owners. When it does, owners will be able to take their vehicles to a Nissan or Infiniti dealer, who will "modify the angle of the hood release mechanism to provide additional length to the release cable". The fix will be carried out free of charge.

If you believe that you own one of the models listed above and have questions, you're encouraged to contact Nissan customer service at 800-647-7261. Alternately, you can contact NHTSA at 888-327-4236 and ask about safety campaign 15V032000 (recall #1) or 15V033000 (recall #2).

Volkswagen recalls Touareg due to fuel leaks.

The AP (1/27) reports that Volkswagen has issued recalls for more than 80,000 SUVs across the world because of “vibration during driving, and production issues can cause small leaks in rare cases.” Among the vehicles covered in the recall are the 2011-2012 Audi Q7, S4, and S5; 2012 Audi A6 and Volkswagen Touareg; and 2012-2013 Audi A7. Of the 80,000 vehicles worldwide, about 27,000 of the vehicles are being recalled from within the US. 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Death claims from faulty GM ignition switch rise to 50.

The AP (1/26, Krisher) reports that “with only five days left before the deadline to seek payments, compensation expert Kenneth Feinberg has decided that 50 death cases are eligible for money due to crashes caused by faulty General Motors ignition switches.” Seventy-five injuries were also declared eligible in details released on Monday by Feinberg, who was hired by GM to oversee the claims. A fund set up by GM “has received 338 death claims and 2,730 claims for injuries,” the AP reports. “Of those, 58 death claims have been rejected as ineligible for compensation, as have 328 injury claims. Feinberg is either reviewing or awaiting documentation on 230 additional death claims and 2,327 injury cases.”
        A Bloomberg News (1/26, Sandler, 2.94M) piece picked up by Automotive News reports that the 50 death claims ruled as eligible on Monday is four times larger than GM’s initial estimate. According to Bloomberg, Feinberg said his findings – unlike GM’s – relied on circumstantial evidence. “GM engineers were looking for definitive proof of ignition switch failure,” Feinberg is quoted saying. “So of course there will be a greater number of eligible death claims.” The story was also reported by Reuters (1/26), Auto World News (1/26, Ecarma, 1K), and Autoblog (1/26, Bigelow, 454K).
        GM: Nearly 900k defective ignition switches still in use. Auto World News (1/26, 1K) reports that documentation filed by General Motors with the NHTSA last week “shows that almost 900,000 GM vehicles with potentially defective ignition switches are still being used.” GM “says that out of a recall of approximately 2,190,934 vehicles, just 1,229,529 vehicles have been repaired by dealers,” Auto World News reports. “The total number of ‘unreachable’ vehicles is up to 80,122, according to the Detroit automaker.” 

Monday, January 26, 2015

Kia recalls Forte sedans because of increased fire risk.

Reuters (1/25, Beech) reports that Kia Motors announced the recall of 86,880 Forte sedans across the US due to a problem with the cooling fan resistor, which can overheat and possibly melt, raising the chances of a fire, according to NHTSA. Owners of affected vehicles can go to their dealers for replacement parts.

        The AP (1/25) reports that the recall “affects Kia Fortes made from Dec. 5, 2012, through April 17, 2014.” 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Car Safety

Here is a short video about rear view cameras in new cars from Consumer Reports. It's amazing the length of the rear blind zone that some cars have.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

NHTSA scrutinizes 2013 Ford recall.

In an article appearing on the front page of its “Business Day” section, the New York Times (1/21, B1, Jensen, Ivory, Subscription Publication, 9.97M) reports that a week after NHTSA Administrator Mark R. Rosekind said he planned on being “more vigilant on safety,” the NHTSA has “taken the unusual move of revisiting the 2013 recall of Ford’s biggest pickup trucks.” The initial recall, which was issued to repair a stalling problem, was limited to nearly 3,000 trucks that were used as ambulances. However, citing several complaints from drivers, the NHTSA notified Ford that “it is now investigating whether that recall should be” expanded, to include almost “197,000 additional pickups that have similar engines but are not used as ambulances,” according to the report. The Times goes on to note that recall queries, such as the investigation into the Ford recall, are “unusual,” noting that there were only four recall queries in 2014. 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

NHTSA opens investigation into Jeep Cherokee vehicles following reports of fires.

Bloomberg News (1/17, Plungis, 2.94M) reports that NHTSA started “a defect investigation into the latest model of the Jeep Cherokee sport-utility vehicle after an owner reported 20-foot flames shot out of its engine compartment after being parked,” which spreads across 50,415 vehicles built for the 2015 model year. According to the article, NHTSA routinely starts investigations “based on a single complaint” when the agency “believes the alleged defect is especially dangerous.”
        Reuters (1/17) reports, Fiat Chrysler spokesperson Eric Mayne commented that the company plans on cooperating to the fullest with NHTSA.

        The Auto World News (1/16, 1K) website reported, NHTSA Deputy Administrator David Friedman told the press back in November that Jeep has “got to get their act in gear,” adding that “They’ve got to make sure that they are getting those parts in the hands of consumers.” 

Monday, January 12, 2015

Chrysler repairs to recalled vehicles coming too slowly, say auto safety advocates.

Auto World News (1/9, Ecarma, 1K) reported online that over “1 million Jeep Liberty and Grand Cherokee vehicles with gas tanks that can explode and catch fire during rear-end crashes have not yet been repaired,” even though “at least six people have died in five highway crashes since the recall in June 2013.” NHTSA noted in July that were Chrysler to maintain its current pace of repairing recalled vehicles, the company “would spend most of the next five years to fix the 1.56 million Jeep Grand Cherokee and Jeep Liberty models affected in the recall, which includes 2002-’07 Jeep Liberty and 1993-’98 Jeep Grand Cherokee sport utility vehicles.” 

Thursday, January 8, 2015

American Honda Motor Co. Inc. agreed Thursday to pay $70 million in fines to resolve federal regulators' allegations that it failed to report more than 1,700 deaths and injuries over a nearly ten-year period until 2014.
Subaru Recalls 199K Vehicles to Fix Brake Line Rust

Subaru is recalling about 199,000 cars and SUVs for a second time to fix rusty brake lines that can leak fluid and cause longer stopping distances.

The recall covers the 2009 through 2013 Forester, 2008 through 2011 Impreza, and the 2008 through 2014 WRX and WRX-STI models. It affects vehicles in 20 U.S. cold weather states and Washington, D.C., where salt is used to clear roads in the winter.

Subaru says in documents posted Thursday by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that salty water can splash on the brake lines through a gap in the fuel tank protector. That can cause rust and leaks. A recall from last year for the same problem didn't work due to incomplete repair instructions to dealers.

Dealers will apply a corrosion-fighting wax to a brake line connector at no cost to owners.

The recall affects vehicles now registered or originally sold in Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Washington, D.C.

Subaru says in the documents that drivers will be alerted to brake line leaks by a light on the instrument panel. Brakes will continue to work even if there's a leak, but drivers may need to push the pedal harder to stop.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

NHTSA head: Auto recalls may rise this year.

Bloomberg News (1/7, Plungis, 1.94M) reports NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind told reporters this week that “public attention on auto-safety defects likely means” that recalls this year in the US will surpass the record last year of over 60 million vehicles. According to the article, Rosekind said that improving the way the NHTSA “tracks potential defects and automakers recall cars will be a top priority.” Rosekind also stated that regulators have to make sure safety problems are addressed, the report notes.
        Reuters (1/7, Rucker, Klayman) quotes Rosekind as saying, “I would expect that we will actually see an increase in recalls” in 2015. He added, “This is one of those cases where more recalls could actually mean the system is working better.”

        Detroit News (1/7, Shepardson, 504K) reports Rosekind said he plans to “seek new authority and additional positions” for the NHTSA, “because it’s underfunded and there’s room for improvement.” Rosekind is quoted as saying, “There is no question that this is an agency that is under-resourced.” However, the article notes that Rosekind declined to comment on “how many additional people he needs.” Meanwhile, Automotive News (1/7, Beene, 181K) reports Rosekind said that improving the agency’s “vehicle defect analysis and recall system” is a top priority. According to the article, Rosekind said the NHTSA is “evaluating its entire recall infrastructure to find improvements.” 

Monday, January 5, 2015

GM opens new year with tens of thousands of large vehicles recalled due to more faulty ignition switches.

The AP (1/4) reports on General Motors’ new vehicle recall for “92,221 full-size trucks and SUVs for a defect in ignition lock systems that can cause safety problems in hot conditions,” covering North American vehicles from some 2011-2012 and 2007-2014 models “repaired with defective parts.” The recall affects Chevrolet Silverado, Avalanche, Tahoe, and Suburban vehicles, as well as GMC Sierra, Yukon, and Yukon XL models, and Cadillac Escalade, Escalade ESV, and Escalade EXT versions.
        WHBQ-TV Memphis, TN (1/3, 86K) reported online that GM does not believe there have been any crashes or injuries from the problems. These latest recalls have to do with “faulty ignition” switches that can “move out of the start positions and could cause the vehicle to stall and prevent airbags from deploying.”

        Reuters (1/2, Geier) reports that General Motors begin 2015 with yet more safety recalls, this time three centering on the ignition devices in several SUVs. The article mentioned DOT’s fining of General Motors for $35 million. 

Friday, January 2, 2015

Harley-Davidson recalls 19,000 motorcycles.

The Milwaukee (WI) Journal Sentinel (12/31, Barrett, 720K) reports that Harley-Davidson is issuing a recall for 19,000 2012 Dyna and Softail motorcycles due to “a brake issue that could increase the risk of a crash.” The Journal Sentinel reports that “the threads for the banjo bolt in the front brake master cylinder may corrode” which could result in “a sudden loss of brake fluid” and “a loss of the front brakes.” 

GM recalls 83,000 more trucks, SUVs.

In continuing coverage of GM’s faulty ignition switches, the CBS Evening News (1/1, story 11, 0:35, Glor, 5.08M) reports that GM issued a recall for 83,000 trucks and SUVs from the 2011 and 2012 model years. CBS notes that the ignition switch defect has been “linked to 48 deaths and 58 injuries.” CBS News (1/2, 3.8M) also reported online. USA Today (1/1, Hellmich, 9.86M) reports that the recall is for 83,572 vehicles; the 2011-2012 “Chevrolet Silverado HDs, Silverado LDs, Suburbans, Tahoes, Avalanches; GMC Sierra LDs, Sierra HDs, Yukons, Yukon XLs; and Cadillac Escalades, along with ESV and EXT versions.” GM says that it is not aware of any accidents or injuries related to the most recent recalls.