Tag Archive | "safety recall"

Takata Air Bag Recall Expands to Record 34 Million Vehicles

As part of an agreement with Takata, federal regulators expanded the recall of vehicles equipped with the company’s air bags to 33.8 million in the U.S., making it the largest safety recall in the nation’s history, reports Detroit Free Press.

The move essentially doubles the number of vehicles being recalled to replace potentially lethal air bags made by the Japanese supplier. At least six people have died and more than 100 have been injured from shards of metal from exploding air bags.

Takata, for its part, officially acknowledged the defects for the first time on Tuesday, even though 17 million vehicles with its air bags already have been recalled.

Mark Rosekind, recently appointed administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, said no one knows how long it could take to fix the vehicles, but “it could take some years. … We intend to make sure at the end of this process there is a safe airbag in every vehicle.”

The NHTSA recall now involves 11 automakers, including the Detroit Three, most affecting 2002 through 2008 model years. Takata is partly owned by Honda, which has the highest percentage of recalled vehicles. The total number could change as automakers sift through the specs of all of their models to determine which ones contain any of the four defective inflators, which activate the air bags in a collision.

Many consumers will have to drive their vehicles for a long time before the parts are available to fix them, with the industry unable to manufacture replacement bags fast enough. They could also be waiting months for the notification their vehicle is subject to recall because automakers must prioritize vehicles at most risk based on their age and geographic location

The announcement is the second example in as many days of Rosekind cracking down on automakers to address safety on U.S. roads. On Monday, Rosekind announced he has scheduled a hearing in July for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles to explain their slow response in completing repairs in 20 different recalls.

NHTSA has been pushing for Takata to expand its air bag recall. Automakers had recalled about 17 million vehicles, many of them from Honda. The latest move largely makes this a national recall of vehicles from 11 automakers with vehicles that potentially have faulty inflators in the driver or passenger-side air bag.

“Up until now Takata has refused to acknowledge that their airbags are defective, that changes today,” said U.S. Treasury Secretary Anthony Foxx. “Takata has agreed to declare their air bag inflators are defective.”

Takata Chairman Shigehisa Takada, in a statement, said, “We are pleased to have reached this agreement with NHTSA, which presents a clear path forward to advancing safety and restoring the trust of automakers and the driving public.”

The supplier has also agreed to enter into a consent order with NHTSA to supply all related documents and information about the defective airbags and pledged full cooperation going forward.

In return, NHTSA has suspended more than $1 million in accumulated fines — $14,000 per day since February — for not responding to all NHTSA’s inquiries. The agency has not ruled out more fines in the future and there could be further civil penalties.

Initially the exploding air bags were considered a problem only in hot and humid climates but the recall has been expanded nationally as Takata and affected automakers continue to try to identify the root cause of the problem so they can fix it.

The recall has also expanded to cover both driver and passenger side air bags in more vehicles and regions.

Automakers with affected vehicles include Honda, Toyota, Ford, BMW, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, General Motors, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru and the newly added Daimler Trucks. The automakers formed a coalition and hired independent engineering firm Orbital ATK to try to find the cause of the exploding air bags. Their investigation is in addition to those being conducted by NHTSA and Takata in an industry-wide effort to find the reason for the defect to make sure it is fixed properly.

NHTSA also is opening its own testing program to focus on ensuring the remedy is completely safe. Rosekind said while the replacement air bags are safer than the ones they replace, he cannot guarantee their long-term safety at this time.

“We are doing our best to keep focused on the investigation,” said former NHTSA Administrator David Kelly who was hired to oversee the investigation by the automakers. Efforts to determine the root cause are still in the early stages of testing, he said.

Safety officials warn consumers to keep checking their vehicle VIN number on the www.safercar.gov website because even some of the vehicles previously fixed – or excluded in the past — could be back on the recall list in the future.

Consumer who receive recall notices should call their dealer immediately.

“Folks shouldn’t have to drive around wondering if their airbag is going to explode in their face or if their car is going to be on another recall list,” said U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., the top Democrat on the Senate Commerce Committee and a key figure in a congressional probe into the defective airbags. “We’ve seen the recall list double now to 30 million cars. Let’s hope Takata’s admissions today tells us the whole story.”

Rich Newsome, an attorney representing seven victims of faulty Takata air bags, including Corey Burdick, a Florida man disfigured and blinded in one eye by shrapnel from an exploding air bag in May, called it a victory for consumer protection.

But, he said, “today’s expanded recall is already too little, too late for people injured and their families. Hopefully today’s news will push the agenda for recall reform to the forefront and result in legislation that will help NHTSA identify these kinds of defects before regular families with defective cars are needlessly harmed in the future.”

Automakers say they will continue to work with NHTSA and share test results. Honda said many of the recalls announced Monday already were included in previous safety campaigns and the automaker is “reviewing the information released (Monday) to determine what new actions may be required.”

Honda owners can check their recall status at www.recalls.honda.com or call 800-999-1009. Acura owners should go to www.recalls.acura.com or call 800-382-2238 and press option 4.

“A recall of this scope illustrates the potential for massive automaker expense and consumer inconvenience when a common, mass-produced part is defective,” said Karl Brauer, analyst with Kelley Blue Book.

“While this is the largest consumer recall in history it’s likely we’ll see future vehicle recalls of similar, if not larger, size as the automotive industry becomes more globalized.” Brauer said.

Takata boosted production to 450,000 replacement kits per month in March, up from 350,000. Other suppliers are also ramping up capacity to meet the demand the recall has created as the industry works to address the problem collectively.

Autoliv, another global supplier of airbags, said Tuesday it could make more airbag inflators than it has already promised to the industry.

In January, Autoliv committed to providing several automakers with as many as 25 million airbag inflators and could begin delivering them later this year.

“Our focus has really been to help the industry and the customers in this situation and clearly if we would be asked to supply more we would work to do that as rapidly as we could,” said Thomas Jonsson, spokesman for Autoliv.

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BMW Recalling Certain Diesel Vehicles

According to a filing with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, BMW is recalling certain model year 2009-2012 X5 xDrive 35d SAV diesel vehicles manufactured September 1, 2008, through November 15, 2012. The engine belt idler pulley bolt could loosen and break over time, which may cause the vehicle to unexpectedly lose power-assisted steering, increasing the risk of a crash.

BMW is notifying notify owners, and dealers will replace and tighten the idler pulley bolt. The recall is expected to begin during January 2013.

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Safety Group Wants Honda Fined Over Recall

WASHINGTON — An auto safety advocacy group wants the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to fine Honda Motor Co. over its recall of more than 2.7 million vehicles for an airbag defect that’s been linked to two deaths.

The Center for Auto Safety said in a letter Monday to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that it wants a civil penalty against Honda “for failing to initiate a timely recall of defective driver airbag inflators that rupture and send shrapnel into the driver,” reported The Detroit News.

Honda didn’t immediately comment on the letter Monday.

On Friday, Honda said it was recalling 876,000 vehicles in the United States for airbag problems. It’s the fifth separate recall for the issue since 2008.

In total, Honda has recalled 2.53 million vehicles in the United States — and 2.7 million worldwide — over faulty airbags that could injure drivers in what is Honda’s largest-ever recall.

The airbags have been linked to about 20 incidents.

Honda said it will replace airbags in 272,779 2001-2002 vehicles because some airbags may inflate with too much pressure.

That pressure can cause the inflator to rupture. As a result, metal fragments could pass through the airbag cushion, causing injury or death to vehicle occupants, Honda said.

Honda is also recalling another 603,421 vehicles to find 640 replacement parts.

This recall now includes 2001-02 Accord, 2001-03 Civic, 2001-03 Odyssey, 2002-03 CR-V, 2003 Pilot, 2002-03 Acura 3.2 TL and 2003 Acura 3.2 CL vehicles.

The latest recall was prompted by a crash and injury in August in Florida in a Honda that hadn’t been recalled, Honda spokesman Chris Martin said Friday. That prompted Honda to reassess whether it had recalled all potentially faulty airbags.

Martin said Honda is now confident it has found all potentially faulty vehicles.

At least 18 injuries and two deaths have been linked to the issue, including an 18-year-old Oklahoma high school student, Ashley Parham, who died in May 2009 when metal shards hit her after the airbag deployed in her 2001 Accord.

“Honda’s submissions to NHTSA fail to disclose what it knew and when in dragging out the recall,” the group said.

A NHTSA spokeswoman, Lynda Tran, said the agency has received the letter. “We have received the letter and will respond accordingly,” she said.

In August 2009, NHTSA sent a letter to Honda asking questions about whether the automaker had recalled enough vehicles for the issue.

Honda said it is aware of several incidents related to this recall and expansions, and is announcing this further recall expansion to encourage all owners of included vehicles to take their vehicle to an authorized dealer.

It is very rare for NHTSA to seek to impose civil fines on automakers for failing to recall vehicles in a timely manner.

In 2010, Toyota Motor Corp. agreed to pay $48.8 million in federal fines, settling three federal investigations that found the automaker delayed recalling about 6 million vehicles. In total, the three fines are the largest ever in U.S. history.

In 2004, General Motors paid the previously largest fine — $1 million — to settle charges that it failed to conduct a timely recall to correct a safety defect. The problem involved windshield wiper failure in 581,344 vehicles manufactured in 2002 and 2003.

Under the law, the current maximum fine for failing to recall vehicles in a timely manner is $17.35 million.

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GM to Recall 50,500 Cadillac SRXs to Fix Air Bags

DETROIT – General Motors Co. is recalling more than 50,000 Cadillac SRX crossovers in North America to reprogram airbags.

GM told the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that the right side head-protecting air bag won’t deploy in a crash if no one is in the front seat, reported The Detroit News.

As a result, a backseat passenger may not be fully protected and could get hurt. GM spokesman Alan Adler said no crashes or injuries have been reported.

“The air bags are programmed to turn off the right side roof rail air bag if the passenger-sensing system determines that the right front passenger seat is unoccupied,” NHTSA said, even though the owner’s manual says it will still deploy. As a result, the vehicle does not comply with federal safety requirements.

The recall affects SRXs built over a three-month period — 47,400 SRXs sold in the United States and about 3,100 in Canada and Mexico. Dealers will reprogram the sensors and GM will start notifying owners today.

No parts are required. The repair is expected to take less than 30 minutes not counting waiting time at the dealership.

This is a North American issue only, because other exported models use a manual key to disable the passenger side airbag. The key disable system does not suppress the roof rail airbags, GM said.

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Millions of Fords Recalled for Engine-Fire Risk Still Unrepaired

WASHINGTON – About 8.4 million Ford vehicles that can possibly catch fire remain on the road because of lack of owner information even after the largest U.S. safety recall ever, Automotive News reported.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration urged owners of the 14 million vehicles recalled between 1999 and 2009 for leaky cruise-control switches to take their unrepaired vehicles in to dealers. The switches on those vehicles may leak into the antilock brake system, Ford has said.

“If not repaired, the vehicles can catch fire, even if they are turned off, parked and unattended,” NHTSA’s statement today said.

A NHTSA spokeswoman said that about 60 percent of the 14 million recalled vehicles — or 8.4 million – have not been brought in for repair by owners.

Typically, about 30 percent of recalled vehicles are not returned for repair within a year-and-a-half of the announcement, said the spokeswoman, who asked not to be named.

Today’s statement singled out used-car owners who may not know whether the vehicles they bought had ever been returned to dealers for needed repairs.

It also urged owners “to watch for potential warning signs of an imminent fire.”

Those signs include a cruise-control system or brake lights that stop working, low brake fluid and the illumination of brake warning lights on the dashboard.

Ford has notified owners about the recalls a number of times, company spokesman Wesley Sherwood said.

The repair rate for the Ford models has been “likely lower than typical” because of their age, he added.

NHTSA praised the automaker’s notification efforts as “diligent.”

Among the models that have been recalled over the years are 1992-2003 E series, 1993-2003 F series, 1995-2003 Windstars, 1995-2002 Explorers and 1995-2003 Rangers.

Ford’s series of eight recalls for the same defect amounted to the largest-ever U.S. recall, according to NHTSA data. The 14 million vehicles recalled are nearly double the size of the next biggest.

Ford’s most recent recall of 4.5 million vehicles for leaky cruise-control switches was in October 2009 after customer complaints of 72 fires.

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Kia Recalls Souls and Sorentos for Fire Risk

Kia Motors America said it is recalling about 35,000 2010-11 Souls and Sorentos because faulty wiring harnesses could short and cause a fire, reported Automotive News.

The recall affects about 23,972 2010 Soul compact crossovers equipped with a special lighting system that includes illuminated front speakers in the interior door panel. About 11,213 2011 Sorento crossovers equipped with a similar feature in the “Limited” options package also are affected.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has received four complaints of fires in the interior door panels of the 2010 Kia Soul while the vehicle was being driven. No crashes were reported.

Kia said it was not aware of any accidents or injuries that have resulted from the problem, and owners of vehicles with the illuminated speaker option can turn off the feature to prevent damage before taking the vehicles to dealers for repairs.

According to a Kia, a limited number of wiring harnesses supplied by Johnson Controls Inc. may have been soldered improperly. The harness could short out in certain conditions, possibly causing a fire, the statement said. Kia did not detail the type of conditions that could lead to a short.

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