Tag Archive | "NHTSA"

U.S. Regulators Probe Steering in Estimated 938,000 Ford Vehicles

U.S. safety regulators have opened a probe of an estimated 938,000 Ford Motor Co mid-sized sedans due to complaints about steering issues, reported Reuters.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration initiated what is called a preliminary evaluation into certain models of the Ford Fusion and Fusion Hybrid, Lincoln MKZ and MKZ Hybrid and Mercury Milan from model years 2010 to 2012, according to a document on the safety agency’s website.

A Ford spokeswoman said on Monday that the No. 2 U.S. automaker is cooperating in the probe.

A preliminary investigation is the first step in a process that could lead to a recall if regulators determine that a manufacturer needs to address a safety issue.

The NHTSA said it has identified 508 complaints alleging loss of steering power and increased steering effort in the models equipped with rack mounted electric power assisted steering. Four of the complaints allege the steering-assist failure resulted in increased steering effort that contributed to a loss of vehicle control and a crash, but no injuries were listed.

In addition, the NHTSA said it has identified related information in Early Warning Reporting field report data submitted by Ford.

Many of the complaints indicated observing a power steering warning message as the failure occurred and in some cases the condition was corrected by restarting the vehicle, according to the NHTSA. However, many reports said the condition returned again after restart.

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U.S. Auto Regulators Defend Role in GM Recall After Report

Federal auto safety regulators came under scrutiny in a Senate hearing on Tuesday for their role in General Motors’ failure to promptly report and recall cars with defective parts that led to at least 19 deaths, reported Reuters.

A report released by a House committee earlier on Tuesday said officials at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration repeatedly failed to identify the potential problems with the faulty ignition switches and could have acted more quickly to catch the problem.

Senator Claire McCaskill, who chaired Tuesday’s hearing, criticized the auto regulator for not pushing hard enough for information from GM by issuing subpoenas.

“That reflects obviously on an agency that is perhaps more interested in singing kumbaya with the manufacturers than being a cop on the beat,” McCaskill said.

The regulator’s deputy administrator, David Friedman, defended NHTSA, reminding the Senate committee that the agency sent investigators to examine crashes involving the now-recalled cars but that GM withheld information.

“NHTSA did not shrug,” Friedman said.

According to the House panel’s findings, NHTSA staff had the power and information that they needed to act over the faulty GM switches.

But they were hampered by “lack of knowledge and awareness regarding the evolution of vehicle safety systems they regulate,” the report said.

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NADA Statement on New NHTSA Search Tool for Vehicle Recalls

McLEAN, Va. – In response to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s new Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) look-up tool for vehicle recall information, Forrest McConnell, chairman of the National Automobile Dealers Association and a Honda/Acura dealer in Montgomery, Ala., issued the following statement:

“The new online look-up tool will help new-car dealerships identify whether a used car or light truck has an unremedied safety recall prior to making a purchase or taking in a trade. It will also help dealerships to determine whether used vehicles in inventory are under recall and to provide used-car shoppers with useful safety recall information.

“To improve vehicle safety, NADA urges every car owner who receives a recall notice from a manufacturer to visit his or her local new-car dealership to have the vehicle inspected, and if necessary, fixed at no charge. Historically, less than 70 percent of all recalled vehicles get fixed. Our goal is to see 100 percent of those vehicles remedied.”

Dealers and consumers can access the new tool from NHTSA at www.safercar.gov.

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NHTSA Offers Drivers Online Recall Check

The U.S. government is offering a free online service for drivers to find out if their vehicles have been recalled but not repaired, reported The Detroit News.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said the service started Wednesday on its website, www.safercar.gov.

Drivers can key in their vehicle identification number to get the results. The number can be found on the dashboard near the windshield or on the driver’s door post near the latch.

Also starting Wednesday, automakers must keep the same data on their own websites, and they have to update it at least once per week.

The safety agency’s site will show data if there’s an open recall, or it will tell drivers there are none.

The agency also said used-car buyers also can check for unrepaired vehicles before they make a purchase.

NHTSA said millions of vehicles are recalled every year, yet about one-third of them are not repaired. That can be dangerous for used-car buyers.

Also, many people move, and automakers often have a difficult time finding them to notify them of recalls.

Without the search feature, car owners who hear or read about recalls of their make and model had no way of finding out if their car was covered, said Carroll Lachnit, consumer advice editor at the Edmunds.com auto information site.

“It is a huge step forward,” said Lachnit.

U.S. automakers have recalled more than 40 million vehicles so far this year, breaking the previous annual record of 30.8 million set in 2004. About 29 million of those are General Motors vehicles as the company undergoes a sweeping safety review. The review began when GM revealed that it knew about a deadly small-car ignition switch problem for more than a decade, yet it didn’t issue any recalls until this year.

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Hyundai Issues Third Recall in One Week

After recalling 889,000 Sonatas a few days ago, the company added another 420,000 vehicles to its recall list, including the Sonata again, for brake, electrical and rust issues, The Detroit Bureau.

The South Korean maker is taking back 225,000 Santa Fe crossovers in 20 cold weather states. The 2001 to 2006 model year vehicles may have rusted coil springs that could fracture and puncture a tire. The springs impacted are in states that use salt on their roads in the winter.

For the third time, the company is recalling Sonatas. This time, 133,000 2011 Sonatas may be leaking brake fluid, which could cause the car to take longer to stop and perhaps end up in a collision.

About 61,000 Veracruz crossovers from the 2007 to 2012 model years are coming back due to an oil leak that may damage the alternator and the vehicle’s charging system, which could result in a full loss of power, increasing the risk of a crash, the NHTSA said. No injuries have been reported related to these problems.

On Thursday, the NHTSA reported that because of a potentially defective transmission-shift cable, about 883,000 Sonata sedans from model years 2011 to 2014 were recalled. Prior to that, it recalled 5,700 2015 Sonatas due to brake problems. In fact, it asked owners to park the vehicles until the repair can be made.

The rash of recalls are somewhat surprising given the company’s performance on recent quality surveys, such as the J.D. Power & Associates Initial Quality Survey (IQS) and Automotive Performance Execution and Layout (APEAL) survey.

The maker is consistently ranked at or near the top of each category in which it has a vehicle.

In the IQS, Hyundai came in fourth overall, and was the highest-ranked of all mainstream makers, beating out such familiar quality leaders as Toyota and Honda. And the little Hyundai Accent, at the other end of the price spectrum from the most problem-free vehicle, the Porsche Panamera, was the second most problem-free vehicle, the Power study found.

In fact, the Sonata was second in the midsize car category this year behind the Chevrolet Malibu and ahead of the Camry. However, stellar results in these polls have repeatedly shown a disconnect between recalls, especially those handled well, from customer satisfaction and quality perceptions.

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GM Tells NHTSA Problems With Midsize Car-Ignition Switches Surfaced in 2003

General Motors Co. changed the design of ignition switches in certain midsize cars in 2003 and 2004 after discovering that the force of a swinging, heavy key chain could turn the vehicles off, but company officials didn’t treat the problem as a safety issue and order a recall of the vehicles until June 2014, according to a document filed with federal regulators on Friday, reported The Wall Street Journal.

The document provides more details on GM’s June 30 recall of 7.6 million midsize cars. Among the recalled cars are 2000 to 2005-model Chevrolet Impalas. GM says it knows of two accidents, involving three fatalities, in which air bags in a 2003 and a 2004 Impala failed to deploy. It is not known whether the ignition switches in those cars had slipped out of the run position, GM spokesman Alan Adler said Friday.

While GM changed the ignition switch designs of other midsize cars made in that period to make it harder for keys to rotate out of the run position, Mr. Adler said the ignition switch of 2000-2005 Impalas wasn’t changed in that way.

GM’s chronology of the events leading to the June 30 recall also highlights the difference in the way the company is responding now to potential safety defects compared to a decade ago.

In 2003, the GM document states, company officials learned of a customer complaint that a Pontiac Grand Am would shut off intermittently. A GM brand quality manager visited the dealership, and asked the car’s owner to demonstrate the problem. The customer had a key ring “containing approximately 50 keys and a set of brass knuckles,” the document states. When the car drove over a speed bump at 30 to 35 miles an hour, it shut down, the chronology states.

On May 22, 2003, GM issued a voice mail to dealers warning them to pay attention to the mass attached to key rings. On July 24, 2003, GM ordered a change in the design of the ignition switches used in Chevrolet Malibus, Pontiac Grand Ams and Oldsmobile Aleros. The change increased the force required to rotate the keys, and a new part number was issued.

In March 2004, a separate order was made to change the “detent plungers” in the ignition switches installed on Pontiac Grand Prix midsize cars, the chronology states. In this case, GM didn’t change the part number, the chronology states.

More than a decade later, on May 22, 2014, an official of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration questioned GM officials about a 2003 service bulletin issued for the Malibu, Grand Am and Alero.

Since the disclosure of the delay in recalling the Cobalt and other small cars, GM has been fined $35 million by NHTSA and is under investigation by federal prosecutors, two congressional committees and other federal and state regulators.

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