Tag Archive | "recall"

Consumer Reports Wants Toyota to Recall Older Camry Hybrids

An influential consumer magazine on Monday called on Toyota Motor Corp to recall about 177,500 older Camry hybrid sedans to address potential power brake defects, reported Reuters.

Consumer Reports, which many consumers use when studying what vehicles to buy, said the Japanese automaker’s decision to call for a service campaign or a warranty extension on two different problems covering cars from model years 2007 to 2011 does not go far enough. Under a service campaign, an automaker repairs cars as they are brought back to dealers by consumers.

“Consumer Reports believes that Toyota should recall these cars,” the magazine said. “What’s at issue here is a series of acknowledged defects in a crucial safety system.

“A recall is more comprehensive and widely published than a mere service campaign, and owners don’t have to wait for a problem to happen before qualifying for the repair,” Consumer Reports added. “Besides that, unlike extended warranties, recalls don’t expire and are performed proactively.”

Toyota spokesman John Hanson said in an email statement that the automaker was working with the U.S. safety regulators at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on a probe related to the issue.

“We believe our actions to address this issue are appropriate, and we are continuing to cooperate with NHTSA in its investigation,” he said.

Consumer reports said Toyota’s decisions were prompted partly by consumer complaints filed with NHTSA. The complaints over the last several years have covered loss of braking performance, increased effort to press the brake pedal and other difficulties, the magazine said.

NHTSA opened a “preliminary evaluation” probe into an estimated 30,000 Camry hybrid sedans from model years 2007 and 2008 after receiving 59 complaints of intermittent loss of assisted braking, resulting in increased stopping distances.

NHTSA said it continues to evaluate all data as part of the investigation and will take action as needed.

A preliminary evaluation is the first step in a process that can lead to a recall if regulators determine a manufacturer needs to address a safety problem.

Consumer Reports, which pointed out Toyota’s service campaign and extended warranty both broadened the scope of the potentially affected vehicles, said its review for the two model years NHTSA cited found power-brake complaints had risen to 269, with 14 crashes and five injuries.

In the service campaign, a problem is potentially caused by a clogged brake-fluid reservoir filter and “front-brake assist could be temporarily lost,” according to a Toyota notice to dealers. Instead of a recall, Toyota will alert owners to the campaign to install a new brake reservoir tank at no cost between now and June 30, 2017.

In the other case, Toyota is extending warranty coverage of the anti-lock brake system’s brake actuator from the standard three years or 36,000 miles, to 10 years or 150,000 miles, according to a separate dealer notice. Remedies could include a new actuator or reprogramming of the skid control electronic control unit.

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GM Estimates Ignition Switch Victim Fund Will Cost at Least $400 Million

General Motors estimated that it would pay victims of an ignition-switch defect about $400 million in settlements through a compensation fund administered by an outside official — although it said the cost could increase by $200 million depending on the number of people who file claims, reported Detroit Free Press.

The company eked out a net income of $190 million in the second quarter after factoring in the cost of current recalls and incorporating a new $900 million expense for the cost of future recalls to cover the entire portfolio of 30 million GM cars currently on the road.

GM’s pre-tax profit fell 85% for the quarter as a slew of recalls temporarily dented the company’s bottom line.

In North America — where most of the recall expenses have occurred — GM nonetheless turned a $1.4 billion operating profit for the quarter, reflecting a surge in sales of redesigned full-size sport-utility vehicles and pickup trucks.

GM Chief Financial Officer Chuck Stevens said the company has largely finished its rapid-fire succession of vehicle recalls after completing an exhaustive review of internal data and customer complaints.

But the cost of the ignition switch defect — which festered for more than a decade before it was fixed and is blamed for more than 13 deaths — will continue to rise.

Stevens said the company’s estimate for victim settlements does not include an estimate for payments to victims who choose to sue GM instead of accepting offers from compensation fund chief Kenneth Feinberg.

Feinberg confirmed in an email to the Free Press on Wednesday that he had not provided an estimate to GM on the cost of his compensation fund, which is not capped. He will accept claim applications from Aug. 1 through Dec. 31.

Stevens told reporters this morning that GM’s actuarial advisers calculated the $400 million estimate.

It’s “our best assessment based on the data that is available to us,” Stevens said. “At the end of the day, the ultimate cost of this will be determined by Ken Feinberg.”

For second-quarter recalls, GM posted a one-time charge of $1.2 billion

But in a shift directly connected to GM’s recall crisis — which has triggered an industry record number of recalls for a single year — the company will now incorporate an estimated cost for future recalls into its earnings calculations when the vehicles are actually sold.

That lead to a $874 million one-time loss for all GM vehicles currently on the road in what the company described as a “catchup” charge.

Despite the flurry of recall costs and a currency crisis in Venezuela, GM nonetheless posted its 18th consecutive quarterly profit — thanks in part to the fourth consecutive quarter of profit margin improvement in North America.

Total revenue rose 1% to $39.6 billion, although global market share slipped from 11.6% a year ago to 11.3%.

“Our underlying business performance in the first half of the year was strong as we grew our revenue on improved pricing and solid new vehicle launches,” GM CEO Mary Barra said in a statement. “We remain focused on keeping our customers at the center of all we do, and executing our plan to operate profitably in every region of the world.”

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Federal Judge Sends Key GM Case to Georgia Court

A federal judge in Atlanta has sent an important wrongful death lawsuit against General Motors back to a Georgia court, reported Michigan Live.

Judge Thomas Thrash Jr. ruled Friday that a Cobb County judge should handle the case filed by the family of Brooke Melton. GM had moved the case to the federal court system.

Melton, a 29-year-old nurse, died in a crash near Atlanta. Her parents sued GM alleging that a faulty ignition switch in her Chevrolet Cobalt unexpectedly shut off the engine, causing her to lose control of the car.

The case exposed that GM knew about the faulty switches for more than a decade but failed to recall the cars until this year.

The Melton family settled for $5 million but now wants to reopen the case.

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Chrysler Recalls 10,700 SUVs for Cruise Control Defect

Chrysler Group LLC said it was recalling about 10,700 sport utility vehicles to fix a defect that leads to unintended acceleration in cruise-control mode, reported Reuters.

The vehicles being recalled are certain 2014 Dodge Durangos and Jeep Cherokees, Grand Cherokees and high-performance Grand Cherokee SRTs assembled between Jan. 16 and April 17.

More than half of the recalled vehicles are with dealers or in transit to dealers, Chrysler, a unit of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, said on its website on Thursday.

About 6,100 vehicles are in the United States, 950 in Canada, 425 in Mexico and 3,200 outside the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) region, the company said.

The company said it was unaware of any injuries, accidents or complaints related to the issue.

Chrysler said it was found that when cruise control is engaged, the vehicle may accelerate for about a second after the accelerator pedal is released.

“In high-performance vehicles subject to the recall, the event may last up to two seconds before deceleration begins,” the company said.

Chrysler in April recalled nearly 870,000 vehicles to fix a defect in the brake systems.

The company is under investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration over a recall of 744,822 SUVs the United States in 2012.

The safety regulators are probing the recall after six consumers complained of inadvertent airbag deployments even after fixes were made.

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Hyundai Recalls 141,000 Tucson Crossovers

Via The Detroit News

Washington — Hyundai Motor Co. said Saturday it will recall 141,000 2011-2014 Tucson crossovers because the airbag may not have been properly attached to the steering wheel.

The Korean automaker told the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration it has reports of 141 incidents of improperly tightened bolts, but no reports of crashes or injuries related to the issue. Hyundai said it is possible that the two bolts attaching the driver’s airbag to the steering wheel assembly were not properly tightened. Over time it could cause a rattle noise, or if both bolts become loose and detach the driver’s airbag from the steering wheel, which could then fail to operate properly in a crash.

In December, Hyundai service engineers noted about 100 “labor only” (no parts), low cost (under $50) warranty claims in which the bolts securing the air bag to the steering wheel were fixed by tightening them to factory specifications. Hyundai said the claim rate was 0.06 percent and no customer complaints were lodged.

On average, the 100 vehicles with warranty claims had been on the road for about 13 months. Hyundai then received an additional 41 warranty claims in the first four months of 2014. “Based on this information, Hyundai determined that a safety recall would be appropriate to ensure that all vehicles in the field are properly” tightened, the automaker said.

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GM Reassigns Executive Who Dealt With Ignition Switch Probe

Via Reuters

General Motors Co has reassigned an executive who dealt with U.S. safety regulators probing defective ignition switches linked to at least 13 deaths, as part of a restructuring meant to improve vehicle safety, the automaker said on Monday.

M. Carmen Benavides, director of field product investigations and evaluations and an executive who has worked closely with U.S. safety regulators in Washington, has been shifted to a new job in the Detroit automaker’s safety group, GM spokesman Greg Martin said.

Benavides, who is now director of safety improvement initiatives, was replaced by Brian Latouf.

Benavides’ name is on many documents in which GM responded to questions from the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, including several in the recall of the faulty ignition switches. She also received an email last summer in which a top NHTSA official called GM “slow to communicate” and “slow to act” on details and recalls.

The Detroit News reported the reassignment last week.

Martin said the move was unrelated to the ignition switch recall and part of executive changes announced on April 22 that included splitting engineering into two groups and the retirement of engineering chief John Calabrese. GM said at the time that the restructuring was meant to improve vehicle safety and quality.

“Brian and Carmen will be undertaking important roles to support Jeff Boyer,” Martin said, referring to GM’s new global safety chief.

GM global product development chief Mark Reuss said last month more changes in the structure of his organization, which includes responsibility for engineering and recalls, were coming.

GM has recalled 2.6 million cars, including Chevrolet Cobalts and Saturn Ions, because the defective ignition switches are prone to being jostled into accessory mode while the cars were moving. That would shut off engines and disable power steering, power brakes and airbags.

In addition to its own internal probe of how it handled the problem switches, which company engineers first noticed in 2001, the automaker is facing investigations by NHTSA, Congress, the Department of Justice, the Securities and Exchange Commission and a number of states.

NHTSA has voiced frustration with GM to Benavides in the past. Frank Borris, head of NHTSA’s Office of Defects Investigation, said in a July 2013 email to Benavides the company was more difficult to work with than other automakers, citing six instances in which the agency disagreed with GM on safety issues. It was the same email in which he criticized the automaker as “slow to communicate” and “slow to act.”

GM has placed two engineers linked to the faulty switch on paid leave as its internal probe continues. In addition to the exit of Calabrese, long-time engineer Jim Federico, who oversaw an earlier internal probe of the problems caused by the defective part, also recently retired. Federico joined motorcycle maker Harley-Davidson Inc as vice president of engineering.

GM has said the two retirements were not related to the defective ignition switch.

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