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Recalls Rising Fast; Over 400,000 Vehicles Added to 2012 Tally

Latest Targets: Mazda, Hyundai.

by on Jul.30, 2012

Hyundai's 2012-2013 Sonata is just one of the latest models facing a recall.

Taking its lead from Ford Motor Co., Mazda plans to recall more than 200,000 of its Tribute SUVs due to potentially sticky throttle cables that could cause the vehicles to race out of control.  Ford last week recalled the virtually identical Escape to deal with the same problem.

Meanwhile, Hyundai will recall another 200,000 Santa Fe and Sonata models to correct problems with their airbags that could make it difficult to react properly if a small adult is seated up front. The Korean carmaker also is recalling about 20,000 other vehicles due to a separate airbag problem.

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While year-over-year comparisons are not yet available, industry observers are noting a sharp run-up in recalls this year – even as various studies suggest the industry is producing its highest-quality vehicles ever.  But manufacturers have come under increasing pressure from regulators and consumer watchdogs to act fast when they discover potential safety problems that might have once been ignored or dealt with on a case-by-case basis.


Feds Investigate Sticky Throttles in Ford Escape, Mazda Tribute

Earlier recall may have created new problem.

by on Jul.18, 2012

Federal regulators have targeted older Ford Escape models -. such as this 2001 -- and the Mazda Tribute in a new safety investigation.

Just days after the all-new 2013 Ford Escape became the target of a recall federal safety regulators revealed they have begun an investigation into older versions of the compact sport-utility vehicle – as well as the similar Mazda Tribute – due to a potential problem with sticky accelerators.

In all, 730,000 of the two vehicles – produced during the 2001 through 2004 model-years – are targeted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration probe.  Only models using V-6 engines are covered.

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Ironically, the problem may have been caused by repairs made during an earlier recall due to an accelerator cable defect.  More than 80% of the vehicles covered by the new investigation, about 590,000 in all, had been involved in that earlier safety-related action.

According to the safety agency, it has so far received 99 complaints – 68 of them involving the Ford Escape – and NHTSA says that it so far knows of 13 crashes, nine injuries and one death related to the problem.


NHTSA Opens Numerous Investigations in January

Millions of Ford F150 and Escape, Mazda Tribute, Chevy Cobalt and Trailblazer, GMC Envoy and Denali models under scrutiny for fires, loss of steering, stalling and other deadly defects.

by on Feb.03, 2010

Ford F150 air bags blowing up for no reason?

Ford F150 air bags blowing up for no reason?

Maybe it is just a coincidence, but the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration opened defect investigations into millions of non-Toyota vehicles last month.

The safety agency is under criticism, of course, for lack of action in the ongoing Toyota unintended acceleration matter, and faces at least two Congressional hearings (click here) over its conduct.

Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, Republican – Illinois, has vigorously defended NHTSA in the media, while attacking Toyota officials for their foot dragging on safety issues, including the sticking pedal recall that was just announced at the end of January.

That’s not going to be good enough for Congressmen who will want to know just what Toyota and NHTSA knew about the complaints and deaths, precisely when it was known, and why it took so long to do anything about it.

It turns out that while NHTSA was pressing Toyota for recalls and telling it to stop sales, it was also asking Ford Motor Company about airbags inadvertently blowing up and causing injuries to at least 66 people. Millions of Ford’s best-selling F150 pickup trucks are potentially affected covering 2004-2006 production.


NHTSA also has reports of at least 88 fires in previously recalled 2001-2004 Ford Escape and Mazda Tributes. In spite of repairs performed on almost 400,000 of the compact SUVs, the fires kept occuring.  NHTSA is now questioning the effectiveness of the previous recall covering an ABS brake controller. Stay tuned for more on this.

The safety agency also queried General Motors about several potentially severe problems. One is the result of a petition calling for NHTSA to open an investigation into the performance/reliability of the fuel level sensor installed in model year 2005 Chevrolet Trailblazers. Reports of engine stalling, and possible rear-end accidents are alleged. If further action were taken, it would include not only 2005 and 2006 Trailblazers, but GMC Envoy models as well. More than 600,000 trucks could be affected.

More serious, perhaps, are the more than 1,000 reports of the loss of electronic power steering assist on 2005-2009 Chevrolet Cobalt models. Most of the complaints have been received during the past six months, and at least 11 of them allege that an accident resulted. NHTSA is now taking a closer look at the issue.

In fact, in the current environment, it looks like NHTSA is going to be more active, and less acquiescent toward automakers than it has been in the past.  The web has made the gathering of information much easier. And publicizing problems results in yet more data, making it harder for automakers to dismiss customer concerns. The art and/or engineering science of this is deciding when a problem is large enough to justify a recall.