Tag Archive | "recalls"

Senator Blumenthal Wants to Quiz Former GM CEOs on Recalls

Via Reuters

Former General Motors Co chief executives should be called to testify to the Congress about the company’s slow response to defective ignition switches in cars that have been linked to at least 13 deaths, a Democratic senator said on Tuesday.

Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, an outspoken member of the Senate Commerce Committee that is investigating GM, said there are “a whole set of questions on why there were so many delays in taking action to remedy this situation” that are still unanswered by the Detroit automaker.

“Of course we have to go back to the prior CEOs” who headed GM before this year’s recall of 2.6 million automobiles, he said. The recalled vehicles have ignition switches that can unexpectedly slip out of the “run” position, shutting off engines, disabling air bags, power steering and power brakes.

In a telephone interview with Reuters, Blumenthal stressed that it will be up to Senator Claire McCaskill, chairwoman of a commerce subcommittee, to schedule the next hearings and decide who will testify.

Asked about Blumenthal’s interest in getting testimony of former chief executives, GM spokesman James Cain repeated an earlier statement that the company’s senior leadership team was not aware of the recall decision until January 31 of this year. He added that an internal investigation into the handling of the ignition switch problem is under way.

“When the facts are in, we will be transparent and hold ourselves accountable,” Cain said.

Blumenthal added that “very definitely I want to hear” from former GM CEO Daniel Akerson, who held the post from 2010 until early this year when current CEO Mary Barra took over. During that time, GM was conducting internal investigations into the defective part.

Separately, GM announced on Tuesday that it is restructuring its engineering operations in a move meant to improve quality and safety of its vehicles, and that its global vehicle engineering chief, John Calabrese, is retiring.

Barra testified to the Senate panel on April 2, and to a House of Representatives subcommittee on April 1. She said she would be willing to return to Capitol Hill for more testimony.

Barra frustrated many members of Congress by testifying that she could not answer their questions because she is so new in the job, after decades of holding other positions within GM.

GM engineers first noticed problems more than a decade ago with ignition switches in Chevrolet Cobalts, Saturn Ions and other GM models but did not notify consumers until this year.

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BMW Recalls 1.3 Million Cars Worldwide

BMW AG, the world’s largest premium carmaker, is recalling about 1.3 million cars for repair worldwide due to a possible problem with a battery cable cover in the trunk, the carmaker said on Monday.

The recall affects 5- and 6-Series BMWs built between 2003 and 2010, BMW said in a statement.

“In some remote cases, the battery cable cover inside the boot of these vehicles may be incorrectly mounted,” it said.

“This can result in the electrical system malfunctioning, the vehicle failing to start and, in some cases, to charring or fire,” the company said, adding it was not aware of any accidents or injuries to people due to the problem.

Fewer than 1 percent of the cars BMW has so far inspected for the issue have exhibited the problem, a BMW spokesman said. So far, the spokesman said, there have been no reports of fires, reported Reuters.

BMW said it was writing to car owners. The repair procedure in a BMW partner workshop would take about 30 minutes to an hour and would be free of charge to customers, it added.

The recall affects about 368,000 cars in the United States and about 293,000 cars in Germany, BMW said. Another 109,000 cars are subject to the recall in Britain and about 102,000 in China, BMW said.

In some European countries, the trunk is called the car’s boot.

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Subaru Recalls 320,000 Foresters to Replace Noncompliant Part on Rear Seat Belt

Subaru is recalling about 320,000 of its 2009-12 Foresters because the rear seat belt may not securely hold a child safety seat or restraint, the automaker informed the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

In a notice posted on the agency’s web site, Subaru said the seat belt for the center position in the back seat may not lock “depending on the shape and size” of the child restraint being used. Subaru told the safety agency that a parts shortage would prevent the last of the affected vehicles from being repaired until February 2013, reported The New York Times.

Michael McHale, a spokesman for Subaru, wrote in an e-mail that N.H.T.S.A. discovered the problem during its testing.

The locking mechanism is a federal safety standard. Because there are so many standards pertaining to vehicle safety and so many automobiles, automakers are entrusted with certifying to the agency that their vehicles comply with those standards. The agency then conducts what amounts to spot checks to ensure the vehicles’ compliance.

Mr. McHale said Subaru was not aware of any incidents, accidents or injuries related to the problem.

Here are other recent safety actions:

• Hyundai said about 14,700 of its 2011-12 Sonata Hybrid vehicles did not meet the federal safety standard for the center rear seat belt. Even so, it informed the agency that it did not regard the problem as a safety issue requiring a recall.

Hyundai told N.H.T.S.A. that it planned to ask permission to forgo fixing about 13,100 Sonata Hybrids in the hands of customers because it considered the problem “inconsequential as it relates to motor vehicle safety.”

Hyundai said it would repair about 1,600 cars currently at dealerships.

The center rear belt has a release allowing the lap and shoulder portion to be detached from the vehicle, which violates a federal safety standard. A Hyundai spokesman could not immediately be reached for comment, and it was not clear whether the agency would approve Hyundai’s request.

• Nissan is recalling about 8,100 Infiniti M45 luxury sedans from the 2003-4 model years because an electronic malfunction could cause the fuel gauge to indicate a higher amount of fuel than actually exists in the tank.

N.H.T.S.A. began investigating the issue late last year after receiving complaints from owners. In a report posted on the agency’s Web site, Nissan said that as it gathered information requested by the agency, the automaker confirmed there was a problem that would require a recall.

• Volvo said it would recall about 2,700 of its 2012 S60 and XC60 models because of possible fuel leaks caused by what amounts to an exuberant application of rust proofing.

In its report to the agency, Volvo said “an incorrect mixture of underbody coating in a combination with over-application can result in iciclelike areas of underbody coating hanging from the undercarriage of the vehicle.”

This coating could penetrate a fuel line and cause a leak, Volvo said. The problem was discovered at the assembly plant.

• General Motors is recalling about 3,600 Buick Regals from the 2012 model year with high-intensity discharge headlamps because the parking lamps may not work, the automaker told the agency. The automaker attributed the problem to a calibration change in the body-control module.

Nissan and Volvo described their recalls as voluntary, but under federal regulations once a manufacturer is aware of a safety problem it has no choice but to inform the agency within five business days of its plan for a recall.

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Auto Makers Recall 500,000 Vehicles

FRANKFURT—German car makers Volkswagen AG and BMW AG said Monday they are recalling more than 500,000 vehicles due to possible technical problems.

A spokesman for Volkswagen, Europe’s largest auto maker by sales, said the company began a recall of 299,000 cars with diesel engines in October last year due to possible problems caused by cracks in the fuel-injection system, reported The Wall Street Journal.

VW has notified the car owners but didn’t say how many vehicles had been recalled so far.

The cracks can occur in VW’s Golf, Passat, Jetta, Tiguan and other models built since 2009. The company’s Audi, Skoda and Seat brands are also affected, according to the VW spokesman.

BMW also said it is recalling 235,000 cars of its Mini brand world-wide due to a possible malfunction of an electric water pump that cools the turbo charger.

A spokesman for the world’s largest luxury-car maker said there haven’t been any reported accidents related to the possible malfunction.

The comments follow a filing by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration saying that BMW will recall 88,911 Mini and Mini Cooper cars in the U.S.

According to the NHTSA filing, the auxiliary water pump that cools the turbo charger has an electronic circuit board that can malfunction and overheat. As a result, the circuit board may smolder and possibly catch fire.

BMW will notify the car owners and dealers will replace the water pump free of charge. The recall is expected to start next month.

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Ford Recalls More Than 450,000 SUVs and Minivans

Ford Motor Co. is recalling certain Escape compact sport-utility vehicles from the 2001 and 2002 model years to fix a brake-system flaw that could cause fire.

The problem is serious enough that Ford says owners should park their vehicles outside until they can be repaired, reported The Wall Street Journal.

The company said the vehicles have brake master-cylinder reservoir caps that could leak brake fluid. The fluid could leak onto a wiring harness connector for the vehicle’s antilock braking system. As a result the connector may corrode, melt or catch fire.

Ford said the defect affects 244,530 SUVs built from Oct. 22, 1999 through July 19, 2002. Under the recall Ford dealers will replace the brake master cylinder reservoir cap and modify the antilock brake system.

In a document filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Ford said it expects to begin notifying Escape owners the week of Jan. 23. However, there may not be enough parts available by that date to repair all of the vehicles. If the parts are not available Ford will tell owners to keep their vehicles outside until they are fixed. Customers with questions can contact Ford at 866-436-7332.

The car maker is also recalling 205,896 Ford Freestar and Mercury Monterey minivans because of a transmission part called the torque converter output, which could fail. If this happens, the vans could suddenly lose power, increasing the risk of a crash.

Under the recall dealers will replace the torque converter free of charge. The recall is expected to begin in the second quarter of this year.

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Toyota Recalls 550,000 Vehicles After Detecting Potential Steering Defect

Toyota Motor Corp., Asia’s biggest carmaker, recalled the most number vehicles in more than eight months after the company detected a potential flaw that may suddenly affect steering.

Toyota recalled about 550,000 vehicles worldwide to replace the crankshaft pulley on the V6 engine, Amiko Tomita, a spokeswoman for the automaker said by phone today. About 80 percent of the vehicles are in the U.S., she said.

“If this condition is not corrected, the belt for the power steering pump may become detached from the pulley and the driver may notice a sudden increase in steering effort,” Toyota said in a statement.

The maker of the Camry sedan recalled millions of U.S. vehicles last year and in 2009, mostly for defects related to unintended acceleration, and paid a record $48.8 million in fines because of the way some of the recalls were conducted, according to Bloomberg. The recalls caused the Toyota City-based company to briefly halt sales of some models in 2010 and contributed to its 0.4 percent U.S. sales decrease last year, the only such decline among large automakers.

No accidents have been reported, Tomita said.

The vehicles being recalled are the 2004 Avalon, the 2004 and 2005 Camry and 2006 Highlander HV. Within the Lexus brand, the 2004 and 2005 ES330, the RX330 and the 2006 RX400h are being recalled, according to the statement.

Toyota rose 1.6 percent to 2,542 yen at the close of trading on the Tokyo Stock Exchange while the benchmark Nikkei 225 climbed 1.2 percent. The carmaker’s shares have slumped 21 percent this year, compared with a 14 percent drop for the Nikkei 225.

The carmaker recalled 1.7 million Toyota and Lexus vehicles in January for defects in fuel pipes and pumps, pressure sensors and spare tire carriers. It called back 2.17 million in February for carpet and floor-mat flaws that could jam gas pedals.

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