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Automakers Seek Insurance Industry Help Boosting Recall Repair Rate

47 million vehicles have unrepaired safety problems.

by on Apr.15, 2016

Recalled vehicles can turn deadly when defects - like this Takata airbag - aren't repaired.

With millions of American motorists routinely ignoring recall notices despite the potentially deadly risks, automakers are looking for ways to increase repair rates, and turning to an unexpected ally.

An auto industry trade group is asking the insurance industry to remind motorists to check to see if their cars are subject to recalls whenever it’s time to renew their policies. Under pressure from regulators and safety advocates, automakers have also been trying other strategies that have, in some instances, included offering owners gift cards if they respond to outstanding recalls.

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The problem is considered serious and only growing worse – highlighted by the March 31st death of a Texas high school senior whose 2002 Honda was fitted with a defective Takata airbag. She was killed by flying shrapnel in what authorities said was an otherwise modest collision. The vehicle had not been repaired despite Honda’s claim that it had previously sent out six recall notices.


Automotive Recalls Hit New Record in 2015

Surge reflects large-scale issues like Takata airbag problem, crackdown by feds.

by on Jan.22, 2016

NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind wants more "vigilance in looking for defects."

Automotive recalls hit an all-time high of 51.2 million in 2015, the second record year in a row that has happened, driven in part by the massive problems with faulty Takata airbags.

The announcement by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration at this week’s Washington Auto Show comes at a time when automakers and automotive suppliers are being driven to be more proactive in addressing problems, federal regulators showing far less tolerance and levying far larger fines than ever before for safety lapses.

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“Part of what has happened is a vigilance in looking for defects,” said Mark Rosekind, the NHTSA Administrator behind the crackdown, adding that, “getting them addressed, has been effective.”


Safety Remain Big Issue as 2015 Draws to Close with Flurry of Recalls

Total likely to near new record.

by on Dec.28, 2015

Faulty Takata airbags were a major reason why recall numbers have run so high this year.

From Ferrari to Subaru, the auto industry is ending 2015 with a flurry of safety-related recalls, more than 1 million in the last week alone.

Final figures for 2015 haven’t been released yet, but they’re expected to come in as a close second to the record 64 million vehicles recalled in the U.S. in 2014. And they cover a wide variety of issues and an even wider range of vehicles from faulty transmissions to fire hazards and exploding airbags.


The huge number of recalls over the last two years is not a surprise to Joan Claybrook, a former head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. “The companies are more likely to behave and do a recall when they know the law is going to be enforced.”


Honda Confirms New Takata Fatality

NHTSA orders recall of 2.1 million vehicles for airbag problems.

by on Feb.02, 2015

Honda is investigating a fatality that occurred last month related to a Takata airbag.

Honda is investigating a fatality in Houston that it believes is attributable to Takata’s faulty airbags. It would be the fifth death in the U.S. due to the airbags.

The driver of a 2002 Honda Accord died last month in Houston when the airbag ruptured in a crash, killing the driver.

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The airbags, which are currently subject to a recall, can explode when inflating sending shrapnel into the vehicle’s cabin. In addition to the driver-side airbag in this case, passenger-side airbags manufactured by Takata have been recalled as well. In all, 10 automakers have recalled several million airbags. (more…)

2014: The Year of the Recall

Safety may remain the big story in 2015.

by on Dec.30, 2014

Barely 2 months after becoming GM's new CEO, Mary Barra was facing a Congressional investigation into the maker's ignition switch problems.

When 2014 opened, the year’s top automotive story seemed likely to be Mary Barra, General Motors’ new chief executive, and the first female CEO of a major automaker. As the year draws to a close, Barra is, indeed, still in the headlines, but enmeshed in what has turned into the year’s biggest story.

GM’s February recall of 2.6 million vehicles due to faulty ignition switches has so far been linked to more than 40 deaths. But in recent weeks, that’s nearly been eclipsed by the Takata airbag crisis that has so far led to the recall of more than 10 million vehicles and counting – federal regulators pressing to expand the service action nationwide.

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But those are only two of the many safety issues that have led the industry to recall about 60 million vehicles this year, nearly twice the previous record set back in 2004. The question is whether recalls will remain the big automotive story for 2015.


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.


Graco Recalls 3.8 Million Child Safety Seats

Facing possible recall of 1.8 million more due to buckles.

by on Feb.11, 2014

Graco is recalling 3.8 million child safety seats due to issues with the buckles.

Graco is recalling 11 models of child safety seats totaling nearly 3.8 million units due to buckles that may not unlatch; however, the company is locked in a battle with the government over another seven models it will not recall.

In the 11 models, which were sold from 2009 to 2013, sometimes the buckles do not unlatch without using excessive force, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), or in some cases the belts have had to be cut to remove the child in the seat.

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To date, there have been 80 complaints filed about the seats, although no injuries or deaths have been attributed to the seats. (more…)

Tesla Exec Testy about Possible Recall

EV maker beats Q4 estimates for deliveries by 20%.

by on Jan.14, 2014

Tesla VP Jerome Guillen fields questions during a testy media session at the Detroit Auto Show. Photo credit: Len Katz.

Tesla’s safety issues regarding the Model S have put the EV maker on a bit of a roller coaster ride for the past six months, and it appears they won’t be getting off the ride any time soon.

While the company had plenty of good news to discuss, such as deliveries in the fourth quarter were up 20% over guidance, the supercharger network expansion in the U.S. is progressing well and the Model S is the top-selling car in Norway right now.

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However, when the press conference turned to the issue of safety and the status of the NHTSA investigation into the three Model S fires and the potential impact on the company, things got a little…strained. (more…)

Consumers Union Defends Role in Missing Toyota Unintended Acceleration Problems and Deaths

Non-profit group also promises to improve its safety coverage.

by on Mar.11, 2010

Until recently a double standard was in use at Consumers Union. It is now trying to distance itself from Toyota.

Ami Gadhia, the Policy Counsel for Consumers Union, vowed to make changes in the way the respected organization handles safety matters in prepared testimony today in front of a hearing by the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection.

Consumer Reports’ self-proclaimed role is to evaluate product performance and provide detailed ratings and reliability information to help car buyers choose the best vehicle.

However, the organization has a history of favoring Toyota, so much so that until recently it automatically gave all new Toyota products recommended buy ratings before reliability data were available – something it did not do with vehicles from other makers.

The non-profit publisher of Consumer Reports said it did not identify sudden acceleration issues in Toyotas or in any other vehicles because it did not encounter any issues with either floor-mat entrapment or a sticking accelerator pedal in any of the vehicles CU tested.

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“These episodes are too rare to show up in our standard testing. And they did not surface as an issue in our annual reliability survey. Had we noticed a problem in our testing, we would have contacted the company immediately, as we did when we experienced a perceived brake failure in our Ford Fusion Hybrid,” said Gadhia.   (more…)

GM Recalls Chevy, Pontiac and Saturn Models for Engine Fires

The fuel pump can leak and ultimately cause fires.

by on Nov.02, 2009

Regional recalls are criticized for leaving defective cars on the road.

Regional recalls are criticized for leaving defective cars on the road.

General Motors Is Recalling 53,000 model year 2006 Chevrolet Cobalt And Saturn Ion vehicles originally sold in or currently registered in the states of Arizona And Nevada for potential engine fires.

It is also recalling 2007 Chevrolet Cobalt, Pontiac G5 And Saturn Ion cars originally sold in or currently registered in the states Of Arizona, California, Florida, and Nevada And Texas.

GM says that the plastic supply or return port on the modular reservoir assembly of the fuel pump may crack. If either of these ports develops a crack, fuel will leak from the area. If the crack becomes large enough, fuel may be observed dripping onto the ground and vehicle performance may be affected. GM said in the presence of an ignition source, it could result in a fire.

Critics of such regional recalls maintain  that since a safety related defect exists, all existing vehicles should be repaired so that the relocation of the car and/or a subsequent owner change does not leave a dangerous condition on the road. (more…)