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What’s Behind the Recall Frenzy?

by on Apr.11, 2014

BMW today increased its recall count for an engine bolt problem to nearly 500,000 vehicles.

Are the cars on our highways getting more dangerous?  That might be a logical assumption considering the rapid rise in recalls over the last five years.  In 2013, a total of 22 million vehicles were involved in recalls in the U.S. alone, up about 20% from the previous year, according to federal data, and the pace is only accelerating.

Since the beginning of the year, General Motors alone has issued recall notices for approximately 6.3 million vehicles – about 40% of those due to faulty ignition switches linked to at least 31 crashes and 13 fatalities.  On Wednesday, Toyota announced it was recalling 6.4 million of its own vehicles – 6.7 million if you include products it also assembled for other manufacturers.

The Last Word!

While not all of those Toyota products were sold in the States, preliminary data suggest about 11 million cars, trucks and crossovers have been covered by U.S. recalls during just the first 14 weeks of this year, roughly half as many as during all of 2013. And over the past year, it was hard to find a single maker not on the list, large or small, from mainstream brands like Ford, Toyota and Volkswagen, to that most exclusive of marques, Rolls-Royce.

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GM Not Working with NASA on Ignition Switch Recall

Space agency would be open to assist – under specific conditions.

by on Apr.11, 2014

A 2007 Chevrolet Cobalt, one of the 2.6 million recalled GM vehicles.

Contrary to widely published reports, General Motors will not have the official assistance of NASA as it moves ahead with its internal investigation of the botched recall of 2.6 million vehicles equipped with faulty ignition switches, TheDetroitBureau.com has learned.

Those reports, which included a story on this site, indicated that the space agency was being recruited to study whether it was safe to continue driving the recalled vehicles if a motorist removed the ignition key from their key ring.

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The issue has become a critical one because a federal judge in Texas is currently considering a request to “ground” all 2.6 million GM vehicles covered by the recall until they can be repaired.

“NASA is not working with General Motors on its ignition switch issue,” the agency’s Deputy Associate Administrator for Communications, Bob Jacobs, said during a Friday interview.

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NASA Investigating Safety of 2.6 Mil Recalled GM Vehicles

by on Apr.10, 2014

GM is asking NASA to determine whether it's safe to keep driving 2.6 million recalled vehicles.

General Motors has turned to NASA to help determine whether it is safe for owners to continue driving the 2.6 million vehicles it has recalled due to an ignition switch defect.

That’s a critical question as GM awaits a ruling by a federal judge in Texas who could force the maker to ground all of the vehicles sold in the U.S. and provide temporary loaners to inconvenienced owners.  GM began recalling an assortment of compact models in mid-February, expanding it in several steps since then because of a shared ignition switch has been linked to 31 crashes and 13 deaths.

This would not be the first time the space agency got involved in an automotive safety problem.  At the behest of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, NASA previously handled an investigation of alleged defects with millions of Toyota vehicles – ultimately finding no problem with the cars’ electronic control systems.

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Ralph R. Roe Jr., the director of the NASA Engineering & Safety Center, is expected to lead the GM inquiry, a source told TheDetroitBureau.com, confirming an earlier report in the Detroit News.

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Toyota Recalling 6.4 Mil Vehicles Worldwide

Nearly 30 different models impacted by a variety of problems.

by on Apr.09, 2014

The Toyota Highlander is one of many vehicles covered by the Japanese maker's huge new recall.

In one of the largest announcements in several years of major safety-related news, Toyota Motor Co. is recalling nearly 6.4 million vehicles for a variety of problems worldwide.

Some of the vehicles are actually covered by more than one recall, and the announcement also impacts products sold by two other makers – Subaru and General Motors — that were produced by Toyota. Adding the Subaru Trezia and Pontiac Vibe to the list brings the total number of vehicles involved in the recall to 6.76 million worldwide.

Global News!

Toyota says it has no reports of crashes or injuries related to any of the recalls – though it did note two fires linked to one problem, a defective engine starter that can keep a motor running even if the motorist wants to shut the vehicle off.  That is not related to the defective engine switch problem that has led GM to recall more than 2.5 million vehicles since mid-February.

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GM Beginning Ignition Switch Repairs

Judge, meanwhile, considers grounding all recalled vehicles.

by on Apr.07, 2014

GM will begin installing replacement switches this week, but the full recall could take some time to complete.

General Motors plans to begin making repairs today on the first of 2.5 million vehicles recalled due to faulty ignition switches.

The repairs could take weeks, and possibly months, to complete, according to various industry sources, due to the limited availability of the replacement parts.  GM says the vehicles are safe to drive in the meantime – if drivers take the appropriate steps.

But a federal judge in Texas is weighing the possibility of grounding all 2.5 million of the vehicles and forcing the Detroit maker to offer owners loaner vehicles while the repairs are completed. A hearing on a request by an attorney suing GM was heard last Friday in a court in Corpus Christi, Texas, but U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos did not issue an immediate ruling.

Breaking News!

The recall was first announced in mid-February when GM said the ignition switches on nearly 800,000 vehicles could inadvertently turn off while being driven, stalling the engine and disabling power steering and brakes, and disabling the vehicle airbag system.  The maker shortly after doubled the total and boosted the numbers again a month later so that 2.6 million compact models are now covered.

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Chrysler Recalling Nearly 900,000 SUVs

Service action focused on possible brake problems.

by on Apr.02, 2014

Jeep calls back its latest-model Grand Cherokee due to potential brake problems - especially in colder climates.

The U.S. side of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles plans to recall nearly 900,000 recent sport-utility vehicles because of potential brake problems that could become especially severe in colder climates.

The automaker originally said it didn’t see a recall-worthy problem when it notified federal regulators of a possible issue with brake line corrosion last year, but the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration thought otherwise after learning that the problem can be worsened if the vehicles are operated in sub-freezing conditions.

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The recall involves 2011 through 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge Durango SUVs, 644,354 of them sold in the U.S., 42,380 in Canada, and another 181,061 delivered to customers in Mexico and other parts of the world.

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GM’s Barra Vows Action at Congressional Hearing

CEO focuses on “Today’s GM” during testimony.

by on Apr.01, 2014

GM CEO Mary Barra testifies before the House Oversight and Investigations subcommittee today.

General Motors CEO Mary Barra’s spent much of her time during her testimony on Capitol Hill today saying GM was a different company now with a focus on safety.

“I would say, in general, we’ve moved from a cost culture since the bankruptcy to a customer culture,” she said, adding the focus on the customer includes ensuring GM vehicles are safe.

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Her hearing before the House Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee saw her pressed on a variety of issues related to the company’s recall of more than 2.5 million vehicles due to a faulty ignition switch, but it was more civil than the lambasting former GM CEO Rick Wagoner received when he testified before Congress several years ago. (more…)

GM Studying “Options” for Ignition Switch Victims’ Fund

GM takes heat at hearings from victims’ families, NHTSA officials.

by on Apr.01, 2014

Family members gather outside the Capitol on Tuesday to mourn victims killed in GM ignition switch crashes. Photo courtesy: Autoblog.com

Even before General Motors CEO Mary Barra took the stand on Capitol Hill to begin the first of two days of testimony, the embattled maker was already taking a series of body blows from both federal safety regulators and the families of some of the 13 people known to have been killed due to defective GM ignition switches.

The maker also received a stinging letter from an assortment of consumer groups and advocates – including long-time GM critic Ralph Nader – demanding it set up a fund to cover “victims of GM product defects, whose legal rights were extinguished by GM’s 2009 bankruptcy.”

Beyond the Headlines!

The maker has responded by hiring Kenneth Feinberg – who oversaw victims’ compensation funds for the 9/11 attacks, the Boston Marathon bombing and the BP Gulf oil spill to “explore and evaluate options” for a compensation fund.

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Despite Pressure from Public, Lawmakers, Are Unsafe Cars Still Sidestepping Recall Process?

GM ignition switch scandal could lead to crackdown.

by on Mar.17, 2014

A Jeep Grand Cherokee fire. The maker long fought a recall - but critics aren't happy with the final settlement.

Things were supposed to change a decade ago.  After an estimated 270 people were killed in rollover accidents involving Ford Explorer SUVs and Firestone tires, Congress passed the so-called TREAD Act.  Short for the Transportation Recall Enhancement, Accountability and Documentation Act, it was intended to create a new process by which manufacturers had to reveal known safety-related issues – while encouraging motorists to report their own complaints.

But while federal safety regulators and automotive industry officials alike insist the new process is working, there are plenty of skeptics – all the more in the wake of the recent revelations that General Motors may have known for more than a decade that many of its compact cars were equipped with faulty ignition switches that could inadvertently shut the vehicles off and disable their airbag systems – a problem that last month led to the recall of 1.6 million vehicles and which has been linked to at least 12 deaths.

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What some are dubbing “Switch-gate” has already spawned a series of investigations – including hearings on both sides of Capitol Hill, a preliminary Justice Dept. criminal probe, a query by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and a new internal investigation at GM itself ordered by the maker’s new CEO Mary Barra.

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1.5 Mil Vehicles Targeted by 3 New GM Recalls

Maker takes $300 mil Q1 charge for recalls.

by on Mar.17, 2014

The 2013 - 2014 Cadillac XTS is covered by one of the three new recalls.

Still stinging from the headlines surrounding an ignition switch recall that is blamed for taking at least 12 lives, General Motors today announced another three recalls covering a total of 1.5 million midsize crossover-utility vehicles, commercial vans and luxury sedans.

The maker stressed that there have been no injuries and accidents related to the three separate service actions – recalls that might have largely been relegated to the back page had it not been for the ongoing controversy over GM’s handling of the ignition switch problem last month.

A Safe Bet!

“These are routine recalls,” said GM spokesman Jim Cain, “but these aren’t routine times.”

GM also noted that it will set aside $300 million to cover the cost of the three new recalls as well as the ignition switch recalls announced in February – a figure spokesman Cain acknowledged could increase.

The Detroit maker is facing a series of inquiries by the U.S. Justice Dept., committees on both sides of Congress, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration – and a team of lawyers GM itself has hired to find out why it waited as much as 13 years to act on the ignition switch problem.

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