Thursday, February 19, 2015

A sixth person has been killed and at least 160 people have been injured by Takata Corp.'s exploding air bags. As questions arise over problems with the recall and repair process, attorneys are concerned the injuries and deaths will grow.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Jeep Grand Cherokee Dangers

Grand Cherokee hit with eight recalls in 2014.
The Albuquerque (NM) Journal (2/17, Rayburn, 238K) reports Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has “had to issue eight recalls on its 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee model” due to problems related to “air bags, braking ability, unintended acceleration and wiring shorts that pose fire risks.” The Journal says in six of the eight recall cases, “replacement parts were available to complete the repairs” but customers were still waiting for the required repairs from recalls announced by Fiat Chrysler in the late fall.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

General Motors expands recall of vehicles in US, Canada for power steering problems.

The New York Times (2/15, Jensen, Subscription Publication, 9.97M) reports that General Motors has issued a recall for “more than 81,000 cars because their power steering systems could suddenly fail, making the vehicles harder to turn,” in what is a follow-up to the recall of 1.3 million vehicles last March. According to the story, about 11,000 of the vehicles are in Canada, and GM “said it was recalling the additional vehicles after an inquiry last April by Transport Canada, that country’s counterpart to the N.H.T.S.A.”
        Bloomberg News (2/15, Barinka, 2.94M) reports that GM will alert owners of vehicles with the defect “and replace the torque sensor assembly without charging for the fixes.” In a letter, NHTSA recall management chief Jennifer Timian said, “If power steering assist is lost, greater driver effort would be required to steer the vehicle at low speeds, increasing the risk of a crash.”
        The Wall Street Journal (2/15, Bennett, Subscription Publication, 5.67M) also reports.
        Vehicle recalls more than double in 2014, NHTSA data show. The Detroit Bureau (2/14, Strong) reports that automotive recalls in the US in 2014 surpassed the previous year by “more than 100%,” with 63.95 million vehicles having been recalled, according to NHTSA. General Motors accounted for most of the recalls at 27 million vehicles recalled in 84 different events. The article partially focused on NHTSA resources to handle recalls and monitor auto safety nationwide, noting that NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind wants more funding for investigating possible vehicle issues, warning that more vehicles could be recalled this year than in 2014. Secretary Foxx agrees, having stated for the press earlier this week that “It’s no longer reasonable frankly to expect an office with 8 screeners and 16 defects investigators to adequately analyze 75,000 complaints a year.”
        The International Business Times (2/14, Young, 1.19M), video from CNBC (2/14, 2.81M), and Law 360 (2/13, Field, 9K) also report with similar coverage. 

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Deadline passes for claims over faulty GM ignition switches.

The AP (2/3, Krisher) reports that “the families of 51 people who died in crashes caused by faulty” GM ignition switches will receive money from the GM compensation fund, with another 77 to receive money for injuries, according to compensation expert Kenneth Feinberg. The deadline for filing claims fell on Saturday, and as of Sunday there were “455 death claims and 3,447 for injuries.” Some are calling for GM to extend the deadline, “because victims do not know yet whether they can sue General Motors Co., the new company that emerged from bankruptcy protection in July 2009.”
        The CBS Evening News (2/2, story 5, 2:30, Glor, 5.08M) reported, Sens. Ed Markey (D-MA) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) are asking GM to reconsider the deadline, “as over a third of the vehicles are still not fixed.”
        USA Today (2/2, Healey, 10.32M) reports that GM’s count of victims “only included people in the front seats who would have been protected, presumably,” if not for the defective switches, and only those driving or riding in models that were specifically recalled

Monday, February 2, 2015

NHTSA recalls over two million vehicles, again, for faulty airbag deployment.

On Saturday, NHTSA issued an emergency second recall of vehicles from several automakers in connection with airbag problems. More than 2 million vehicles were recalled because their airbags can deploy unpredictably. Commenting on the recall, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said, “Keeping the traveling public safe is our number one priority, and we expect the manufacturers to get this remedy right to prevent injury to drivers and their families.”
        ABC World News (1/31, story 6, 0:20, Vega, 5.84M) reported “Toyota, Chrysler and Honda” are among the car companies. According to the broadcast, “half of these cars” being recalled for the airbag-inflation problem “are under another recall because airbags could expel sharp shards of metal.”
        The CBS Evening News (1/31, story 2, 2:30, Axelrod, 5.08M) aired a longer piece, reporting that the “2.1 million are being recalled because they may have faulty crash sensors that could cause airbags to deploy by mistake and for about half of these vehicles it’s a re-recall.” Additionally, about one million of the Toyota and Honda cars have Takata airbags installed. NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind said, “We’re talking about the potential of a double problem here whether there could be an inadvertent airbag deployment, and actually because of the defect that’s involved it could actually be then connected to a Takata airbag inflator problem.” CBS’ newscast also referenced the website, which allows consumers to see if their vehicle has an outstanding recall on it by entering their vehicle’s VIN.
        NBC News (1/31, Fieldstadt, 3.76M) reported online that Foxx announced the recall, compelled by the fact that “up to 40 cars experienced the issue,” understood to have been fixed by 2014, “after a repair” at the dealership. Rosekind also voiced his concern that the recall could become “a complicated issue for consumers, who may have to return to their dealer more than once. But this is an urgent safety issue.”
        For its part, the New York Times (2/1, Jensen, Ivory, Subscription Publication, 9.97M) highlights the fact that NHTSA “said replacement parts might not be fully available until the end of the year.” As of Saturday, NHTSA is aware of three injuries related to the airbag deployments, “but no deaths.” The three main automakers involved in the recall, Toyota, Chrysler, and Honda, are recalling “about one million,” 753,000, and 374,000 vehicles, respectively.
        Bloomberg News (2/1, Plungis, 2.94M) reports that NHTSA’s “unusual Saturday press briefing to warn the public” in its “push for a second recall of 2.1 million cars and trucks ... delivered more cautionary tales about a complex life-saving technology that’s had a very bad year.” The report recounts the safety issues with GM cars and cars built with Takata airbag parts, noting recent calls by public officials “for a more aggressive policing of the auto industry by NHTSA.” Sens. Edward Markey and Richard Blumenthal “praised regulators for acting decisively.” On this matter, Rosekind comments that the agency’s action “really highlights for us that you can have a recall and a remedy, and you still need NHTSA’s ongoing vigilance to make sure it’s fully effective.” Bloomberg News (2/1, Zajac, 2.94M) also reports in a shorter story.
        The Los Angeles Times (2/1, Masunaga, 3.49M) quotes Rosekind as saying that “even though it’s a temporary solution until the new remedy is available, they and their families will be safer if they take the time to learn if their vehicle is covered and follow their manufacturers’ instructions.”
        NHTSA did point out that people have a higher chance of being in a crash where their airbags could prevent serious injury than they do of being in a scenario where their airbag deploys for no reason, Reuters (2/1, White) reports.
        The AP (2/1) reports that “carmakers originally tried to fix the defects by partially replacing the electronic control unit, made by TRW Automotive Holdings Corp. of Livonia, Mich., but that fix didn’t always work,” and so “the new remedy — full replacement of the unit — will be available to all affected vehicles by the end of the year.”
        The Detroit Free Press (2/1, Gardner, 987K) reports that Rosekind “emphasized that owners still must respond to the initial recall to replace the inflators made by Takata, but this second repair is equally necessary.”