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11 Nov 2014

NHTSA probing 400,000 Infiniti, Honda vehicles over steering faults

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2013 Honda Accord

2008 Infiniti EX35As many as 391,000 vehicles from Infiniti and Honda may eventually need to be recalled as a result of two, separately announced Preliminary Evaluations from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to ascertain the scope of the potential safety hazards.

The larger investigation has NHTSA looking into the 2013 Honda Accord because of 24 reports from drivers alleging total loss of power steering or a sudden increase in necessary effort to turn the vehicle. In four cases, the problem is reportedly linked to crashes, with all of them occurring at less than 30 miles per hour. According to the claims, 13 people also reported seeing a warning message during the failure. Turning off the car and restarting it would fix the issue in some cases. If a recall is necessary, it could affect an estimated 374,000 Accords.

The second investigation is much smaller in scope. The safety agency is investigating the 2008 Infiniti EX35 after two complaints of the steering wheel shaft separating, and the vehicle losing the ability to steer. Both reports allege that the steering became loose when driving and then completely failed once the vehicle was stopped. A recall for the problem would affect an estimated 17,000 vehicles. Scroll down to read NHTSA’s reports on both Preliminary Evaluations.

Continue reading NHTSA probing 400,000 Infiniti, Honda vehicles over steering faults

NHTSA probing 400,000 Infiniti, Honda vehicles over steering faults originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 11 Nov 2014 09:15:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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11 Nov 2014

Auto industry insider previews tell-all book, What Did Jesus Drive?

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Ford Motor Co. Defends Explorer''s Safety

“It’s about some of the biggest crises in history. It’s about who did it right and who did it wrong.” – Jason Vines

Jason Vines, the former head of public relations at Chrysler, Ford and Nissan, has seen a lot during his more than 30-year career, and now he’s offering a behind-the-scenes look at the auto industry in his tell-all book What Did Jesus Drive? that went on sale this month.

Vines oversaw communications at all three automakers during major crises, including recalls and bankruptcy. His book reveals how they handled – or fumbled – those situations, often with life-or-death consequences.

“It’s about some of the biggest crises in history,” Vines said. “It’s about who did it right and who did it wrong.”

Continue reading Auto industry insider previews tell-all book, What Did Jesus Drive?

Auto industry insider previews tell-all book, What Did Jesus Drive? originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 11 Nov 2014 10:59:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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10 Nov 2014

GM allegedly ordered 500k replacement ignition switches months before recall [UPDATE]

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General Motors Recall

It appears that General Motors began preparing for its ignition switch recall far earlier than previously known. According to emails viewed by The Wall Street Journal, a contract worker for the automaker allegedly placed an order for 500,000 replacement ignition switches from Delphi to prepare for the repairs on December 18, 2013. However, the actual recall for the parts wasn’t announced until two months later in February 2014, and it had to be expanded several times afterwards to cover an increasing number of vehicles.

According to WSJ, the “urgent” order came a day after an executive meeting where the situation with the Chevrolet Cobalt was discussed, but no records were kept about what was said there. These emails reportedly were found as part of the discovery phase of a lawsuit against GM for the campaign currently pending in New York.

GM spokesperson Alan Adler told the newspaper that the company wasn’t required to divulge parts orders to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In fact, according to WSJ, it’s not entirely uncommon for an automaker to order components prior to a recall. Still, the documents have added fuel to the fire about GM’s allegedly poor handling of the situation. They seem to indicate the business waited months to let customers or regulators know about the potentially deadly problem, while it got the fix ready. Even though representatives met with NHTSA in 2007 to discuss the issue. At last count, the company’s compensation fund had approved payouts for 30 deaths and 31 injuries related to the faulty switches.

UPDATE: In an emailed statement, Adler tells Autoblog,

“These emails are further confirmation that our system needed reform, and we have done so. We have reorganized our entire safety investigation and decision process and have more investigators, move issues more quickly and make decisions with better data.

How it works today:

  • Potential issue review with appropriate data to determine whether further investigation is warranted
  • Open investigation review recommends for or against a recall or other field action
  • A group of senior leaders quickly decides whether or not a recall is warranted”

GM allegedly ordered 500k replacement ignition switches months before recall [UPDATE] originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 10 Nov 2014 09:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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08 Nov 2014

Takata discovered and hid airbag flaw a decade ago, workers allege

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Japan Takata Recalls

With millions of cars in need of repair and over 100 injuries reported, the problems facing Takata for its airbag inflator recall are huge. The controversy doesn’t appear to be coming to a close soon, either. Now, two anonymous company employees have claimed to The New York Times that the business allegedly knew about the potential dangers surrounding the parts in 2004 because of secret tests. Despite them, the suppler didn’t instigate a recall.

According to the sources who remain unnamed by The New York Times because they still have links to Takata, following a crash in 2004, the supplier began pulling airbags out of vehicles at junk yards and tested them after work, on weekends and during holidays, to keep it a secret. Allegedly, at least two of these evaluations showed cracks in the parts, and the workers actually began developing a solution for a presumed recall.

Allegedly, at least two of these evaluations showed cracks in the parts.

However, at some point the analysis was stopped, and all of the data was destroyed. According to the insiders, these studies were allegedly known at least as high as Takata’s vice president of engineering. If this is the case, then the company was aware of the issues four years before it claims that it began investigating in 2008.

Furthermore, other anonymous sources within Takata tell The New York Times that the problems could go even deeper. The company allegedly had serious quality control issues. In one case, a forklift dropped a container of airbag parts, and they weren’t properly inspected afterward. In another example, trucks were reportedly leaking water onto the components during transit, even after employees found a way to stop it. According to workers, these problems went ignored because of pressure to keep up with the demand for airbags from Takata’s many automotive partners.

We may learn even more about the company’s handling of this recall in the near future. A pending investigation from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration requires that Takata submit its official documents and answer 36 detailed questions by December 1 or face a fine of up to $35 million.

Takata discovered and hid airbag flaw a decade ago, workers allege originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 07 Nov 2014 16:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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07 Nov 2014

Toyota recalling select 2014 Camry and Avalon models

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2014 Toyota Camry

2014 Toyota AvalonToyota has announced a rather small voluntary recall, affecting 5,650 Avalon and Camry sedans from model year 2014. Both gas and hybrid models are included in the action.

This recall focuses on the left front lower suspension arm, which may have a bad bolt connecting it to the ball joint. If the car hits a big enough pothole – a real concern as we head into winter – or suffers a major impact, the two components could separate, at which point steering control would more or less vanish.

According to Toyota, there have been no crashes, injuries or deaths due to this problem. Toyota is notifying owners, who will need to report to dealers for a free replacement lower suspension arm.

Scroll down for the official press release.

Continue reading Toyota recalling select 2014 Camry and Avalon models

Toyota recalling select 2014 Camry and Avalon models originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 06 Nov 2014 18:31:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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07 Nov 2014

Honda updates Takata airbag recall status for some models

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2003 Honda Civic

The net enveloping vehicles in the Takata airbag inflator recall just seems to keep widening. Honda is now updating its previous campaign to revise the status for even more models that were ever registered in (or originally sold in) 13 high-humidity US states and territories.

All of these vehicles were included in the company’s earlier repairs. However, at the time this fix was titled “a safety improvement campaign.” This latest action upgrades that condition to “a formal recall,” according to Honda’s official statement. The models include: the 2003-2005 Honda Accord, 2001-2005 Civic (pictured above), 2002-2005 CR-V, 2003-2004 Element, 2002-2004 Odyssey, 2003-2005 Pilot, 2006 Ridgeline, 2003-2005 Acura MDX and the 2005 Acura RL. All of these need to have their passenger-side, front airbag inflator replaced, and the recall affects Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas, Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, Saipan, Guam and American Samoa.

As with the rest of these affected vehicles, it’s possible in a collision for the inflator to rupture spraying metal shrapnel at occupants. There are at least 139 injuries attributed to this problem from a variety of automakers so far. Among this latest population of vehicles, Honda says there have been no confirmed injuries or fatalities related to these exploding inflators.

Owners should receive notification of the update by mail beginning in early December. Honda spokesperson Chris Martin told Autoblog via email that the company is working with Takata to have enough inflators to repair all of the affected models. “If we reach a point that a sufficient quantity of replacement inflators is not available, we will work with concerned customers to address their needs until parts are available, including the provision of or reimbursement for temporary alternative transportation.”

According to Reuters, Honda is currently under investigation National Highway Traffic Safety Administration over its handling of this recall campaign. Earlier allegations from the Center for Auto Safety claimed that the automaker failed to report two injury-and-death incidents to NHTSA involving the faulty airbags. You can read the company’s full statement on the upgraded status below.

Continue reading Honda updates Takata airbag recall status for some models

Honda updates Takata airbag recall status for some models originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 07 Nov 2014 10:44:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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05 Nov 2014

Infiniti recalls Q50 and Q70 Hybrid models

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Infiniti Q50 Hybrid

2012 Infiniti M35 HybridInfiniti is issuing three separate recalls for its Q50 Hybrid and Q70 Hybrid and M35 Hybrid covering roughly 13,794 vehicles in North America.

The larger campaign listed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration covers 5,831 examples of its 2014 Q50 Hybrid (shown above) and 2014 Q70 Hybrid in North America, with 5,412 of those in the US and its territories. According to NHTSA, “due to a software error, the electric motor may stop working while the vehicle is being driven using the electric motor only,” creating a “stall-like condition.” To fix the fault, the company is reprogramming the motor inverter software, and owners should be contacted in mid-November.

The second recall covers just 890 2014 Q50 Hybrid and 2014 Q70 Hybrid models in North America, with 817 of those residing in the US. It’s possible that their transmission housings were damaged during manufacturing, and on affected models, the housing could have a crack that might fracture while driving. Dealers will inspect the transmission and faulty examples will be replaced.

Finally, while not currently listed by NHTSA’s database, Infiniti’s documents for dealers also mention a third campaign to reprogram the throttle position sensor on the 2011-2013 M35 Hybrid (inset), 2014 Q50 Hybrid and 2014-2015 Q70 Hybrid. This recall affects 7,073 vehicles in North America, with 6,562 of those in the US. A programming error can cause the “electronic throttle chamber” to open without the driver changing the throttle position, which could cause gradual unintended acceleration. However, the automaker says that this condition can be overcome by braking. The fix is software update.

Scroll down to read NHTSA’s announcements for the electric motor and transmission recalls, and Infiniti’s official statement. Information about the throttle position sensor campaign can be found in this PDF document.

Continue reading Infiniti recalls Q50 and Q70 Hybrid models

Infiniti recalls Q50 and Q70 Hybrid models originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 04 Nov 2014 13:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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05 Nov 2014

Ford announces bevy of recalls, 2 of which are recalls on recalls

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2014 Ford F-150

Ford has announced five separate recalls, affecting 202,000 vehicles built between 2005 and 2014.

It’s not been a great couple of weeks for Ford. On October 30, the company announced a 205,000-unit recall, and yesterday, it was revealed that the Ford brand’s year-over-year sales were down over 5,000 units while the company itself was down 3,000 units over through October. Now, the company has announced five separate recalls affecting 202,000 vehicles built between 2005 and 2014.

The biggest recall covers 135,000 Flex crossovers and F-150 pickups. In these vehicles, an issue with the passenger seat sensor could prevent the airbag from deploying in the event of an accident. The affected Flex CUVs are from model year 2014, and were built from March 1, 2014 to May 31, 2014 at Ford’s Oakville Assembly plant. The pickup trucks, meanwhile, were built over the same period at both Ford’s Dearborn and Kansas City facilities. Interestingly, in addition to the 2014 pickups, Ford is also recalling certain 2009 to 2014 F-150s that had a seat track assembly repaired between February 17, 2014 and October 31, 2014.

Next on the docket are the 38,600 Panther-platformed vehicles. Those include the 2005 to 2011 Ford Crown Victoria, Mercury Grand Marquis and Lincoln Town Car. Like the F-150, a potentially flawed previous recall repair has precipitated this latest action, which covers a bad repair on the lower intermediate steering shaft. This problem could lead to a sudden loss of steering.

Of all of these recalled vehicles, Ford is only aware of one incident, involving the driver of a Panther-platform sedan.

The Crown Vic and Grand Marquis were built between March 23, 2004 and August 30, 2011, while the Town Cars are split between 2005 to 2007 and 2008 to 2011. The older Lincolns were built at Ford’s Wixom, MI factory between March 8, 2004 and June 5, 2007 while the newer Town Cars were screwed together at the same St. Thomas factory as the Ford and Mercury sedans. These cars were built between August 28, 2007 and August 30, 2011.

Ford is also recalling 27,600 Transit Connect vans, built for model year 2014 between August 1, 2013 and July 10, 2014. These vas, fitted with a 2.5-liter engine, are being recalled due to a potentially bad routing for the fuel and vapor lines. The two lines could rub together if they’re improperly set up, which in turn could cause a leak, increasing the likelihood of a fire.

Ford’s next two recalls are comparatively small. First, we have 960 F-150 pickups from 2014. The trucks are being recalled because their brake lights might not illuminate immediately, and Ford is also warning drivers to avoid using the cruise control, as additional brake pressure might be needed to deactivate it. Blame is being placed on a brake pedal position switch. Trucks built between March 1, 2014 and March 13, 2014 in Dearborn and March 3, 2014 and March 13, 2014 in Kansas City are potentially affected.

The next recall includes 92 Transit vans from model year 2015, all of which are fitted with Ford’s 3.2-liter engine and built at Ford’s Kansas City facility. In these vehicles, the bracket that holds the fuel filter in place may detach over time, causing a knocking sound or making the van stall. Affected vans were built between July 28, 2014 and August 7, 2014.

Of all of these recalled vehicles, Ford is only aware of one accident, a crash that involved the driver of a Panther-platform sedan. There have been no reports of injuries. Scroll down for the full press release from Ford.

Continue reading Ford announces bevy of recalls, 2 of which are recalls on recalls

Ford announces bevy of recalls, 2 of which are recalls on recalls originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 04 Nov 2014 14:29:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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04 Nov 2014

Porsche recalling 4,400 911, Boxster and Cayman models over hood latches

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Porsche 911 GTS

Porsche Boxster GTSPorsche has issued a “precautionary” and voluntary safety recall affecting some 4,400 sports cars across the globe. Here in the United States, the recall includes 1,382 911, Boxster convertibles and Cayman coupes, all of which are from model years 2014 and 2015.

Porsche will be replacing the lock bracket for the front cargo area (the frunk) after internal testing revealed that, while the vehicles meet “strength requirements,” specific parts might not meet the company’s quality standards throughout the vehicle’s life. There have been no reports of accidents or injuries.

Owners of the affected cars will be notified within 60 days and will need to report to a nearby dealer for a free repair, which should take about 30 minutes.

Scroll down for the press release from Porsche.

Continue reading Porsche recalling 4,400 911, Boxster and Cayman models over hood latches

Porsche recalling 4,400 911, Boxster and Cayman models over hood latches originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 03 Nov 2014 17:59:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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01 Nov 2014

Infiniti SUV recall marks latest chapter in Takata airbag saga

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2013 Infiniti QX56

Automotive parts maker Takata is having a rough year with millions of vehicles equipped with its airbag inflators being recalled. However, it looks like there might still be problems with the company’s quality control, if a new recall by Infiniti is any indication.

The Japanese luxury brand is recalling 1,912 total units of the 2013 Infiniti QX56 and 2014 QX80 in North America because of a manufacturing flaw with their Takata-supplied inflators for the driver’s side front airbag. Of those, 1,848 are in the United States, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Specifically, the outer baffle could be the wrong component and cause too much pressure to build up inside. According to documents submitted to NHTSA, it’s possible in a crash for the part to rupture spraying metal shrapnel at occupants. At this time, Infiniti has not had any reports of this actually happening to drivers.

While this problem sounds nearly identical to the issue affecting millions of earlier vehicles, it must be noted that this is a different fault. According to the notice being sent to dealers on NHTSA’s website: “This particular Voluntary Safety Recall Campaign is unrelated to two earlier campaigns that involved Takata passenger front air bag inflators on some older model Infiniti vehicles. This issue involves a much newer inflator and is a different, more isolated, Takata quality control issue.”

Unfortunately, the parts to fix the vehicles aren’t yet ready. According to Infiniti, it should be four or five weeks from when it submitted this recall to NHTSA on October 23 before vehicles can be repaired. According to the letter to dealers, concerned owners can ask for a loaner vehicle in the meantime.

This latest campaign comes at the worst possible time for Takata. According to Reuters, it’s already having trouble supplying replacement parts for its other inflator recall. NHTSA is also asking automakers to keep testing the parts for faults, and if more problems are found, they should expand the campaigns even further.

According to Automotive News, NHTSA is sending 36 questions to Takata that it must answer by December 1 or face a fine of up to $35 million. It includes requests for documents pertaining to the recalls, a report of every death or injury and the company’s production capacity to build inflators. The agency did something similar with GM’s ignition switch recall earlier this year. Scroll down to read Infiniti’s statement on the recall and NHTSA’s report.

Continue reading Infiniti SUV recall marks latest chapter in Takata airbag saga

Infiniti SUV recall marks latest chapter in Takata airbag saga originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 31 Oct 2014 17:43:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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