The Truth About Cars » hearing The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Thu, 24 Jul 2014 17:47:59 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » hearing NLRB To Conduct Hearing on Alleged Worker Intimidation at Mercedes-Benz Plant in Alabama Wed, 29 Jan 2014 16:19:57 +0000 28_Millionth_Vehicle_at_Plant_Tuscaloosa

The National Labor Relations Board will conduct a hearing to discuss allegations regarding management conduct at Mercedes-Benz’s Vance, Alabama plant. The reports filed with the Board allege that Mercedes violated worker’s rights by forbidding discussion of unions during working hours, as well as threatening termination of employees that solicited for the union.

The UAW accuses Mercedes of suppressing efforts by employees to organize, in violation of the National Labor Relations Act. Mercedes claims it has pursued a policy of neutrality regarding the unionization of its workforce. The NLRB dismissed one complaint filed against the company in August of last year. But two other complaints filed in the fall were accepted by the NLRB as possible violations of labor law. The hearing, to be conducted on April 7, will allow both sides to present their case before a judge. The recommendation of that judge will influence the final ruling by the NLRB. A ruling against the complaint would strengthen the position of Mercedes and the union’s political opponents, but if the NLRB finds a violation of the law, it could be a major coup for the UAW.

This is the latest development in an ongoing campaign to unionize the plant, which builds the M, R, and GL Class near Tuscaloosa. Pro-union employees cite stagnating wages and reduced benefits as part of their reason for considering unionization. This leaflet issued by the UAW organizing committee alleges that since 2007, Mercedes has slashed healthcare plans for retirees. Supposedly, employees hired after 2009 will not be eligible for any retiree health benefits whatsoever. Employees have also voiced concern over the increased use of temporary workers at the plant. Still others point to a general decline in the relationship between labor and management, with complaints about inconsistent application of company policy. Others dismiss the need for a union, pointing out that high-paying jobs were scarce in the area before Mercedes arrived. They fear that the UAW may damage Mercedes’ recent run of success in the US. This includes an expansion of the plant to build the new C-Class later this year.

Although it has not yet succeeded in organizing the main Mercedes plant, the UAW has had a measure of success with Mercedes’ suppliers. The parts makers Faurecia, Inteva, ZF, and Johnson Controls in nearby areas have been organized for several years. It’s possible that the UAW may be able to leverage this success with plant workers in Vance. Even so, the unionization of a major transplant automaker in a right-to-work state remains a daunting task.

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Piston Slap: I just heard…WHAT??? Wed, 03 Apr 2013 11:24:20 +0000

TTAC commentator Robstar writes:

Hi Sajeev,

I bought a new 2005 Subaru WRX STi in March of 2005, it currently has around 51k miles on it. Rotors have been replaced once, brake pads twice. The car still has it’s original clutch! It went from being an occasional commuting car in all city traffic to an every-day 60 mile RT jaunt mostly highway.

With all of that said I don’t think I’m rough on the car as it’s rated EPA 16/22 and over the latest 5300 miles (since I started keeping track) I’m averaging 23.5mpg in mixed driving. Before I present my issue, keep something in mind:

I’m hard of hearing and have lost roughly half my hearing since birth (I was born without normal hearing). I’m also currently demoing NEW hearing aides and I’m hearing new sounds I’ve never heard before. I recently heard my infant sons white noise machine for the first time as well as the doorbell.

On to the issue…..

I noticed yesterday after my drive home and parking in my driveway (faces uphill), after turning the car off that it sounds like “popcorn popping” under the hood! I’m not sure if this sound is normal or has always been there and I never noticed. This is with the CAR OFF/STOPPED/PARKED after a 25 mile highway jaunt at fairly consistent speeds in a straight line. I’ve search NASIOC and could only find people complaining about this with the car ON, so I have no idea what my issue could be. The temp gauge in the car didn’t go off and no smoke or excess heat seemed to be coming from the hood. After opening the hood, and calling my wife outside to listen, she pointed to the sound coming from somewhere around the inter-cooler or “red pipe”.Thanks for any help you can give.

Sajeev answers:

Congrats on your invigorated sense of hearing!  I can’t even imagine the joy you must feel. More to the point, about the Subie’s problem: Pop it like it’s Hot.

I have no idea what I just said.

Which makes sense, as I don’t have a good answer for your Subie’s problem.  Perhaps you have some sort of pre-ignition backfire from a fuel pump/injector that won’t shut off when the key is out of the ignition.  Or perhaps you are just hearing your extra hot, turbocharged exhaust popping as it cools down.  I think the latter is likely.

Either way, if your fuel economy is fine and there are no trouble codes generated by the computer, I wouldn’t worry about this one.  Enjoy the new found sound of your sweet ride.  It’s just poppin…like it’s hawwwwt!


Send your queries to Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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Congressional Ghost Busters Empty Handed Fri, 21 May 2010 04:05:45 +0000

Yesterday’s Toyota hearing at the U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee was a desperate attempt to keep the Toyota issue in the headlines, and to provide flanking support for Waxman’s proposed Motor Vehicle Safety Act. The ghosts in the machine are still at large …

Toyota’s Jim Lentz testified as we said he would testify: Despite an exhaustive analysis of the electronics, no gremlins were found. Lentz said that Exponent “are testing everything that could possibly create unintended acceleration.” He added that Toyota has never discovered any evidence that electronics could be at the center of a problem.

That wasn’t good enough for Waxman who thundered that the results of Toyota’s “examination raise serious questions. Toyota has repeatedly told the public it has conducted extensive testing for electronic defects. We can find no basis for these assertions.” Waxman couldn’t produce a ghost either.

According to the rules of jurisprudence, one cannot be forced to supply evidence that does not exist.

Toyota received unexpected support from David Strickland, head of NHTSA, who told the hearing that Toyota’s remedies for the recall appear to be working. According to Reuters, Strickland “also said that an agency-led investigation of Toyota electronics is moving forward with the help of space agency experts from NASA and the Justice Department, work that will be subject to scientific peer review in coming months.” Translation: No ghost found so far, and none expected in the near future.

Republican Marsha Blackburn castigated committee Democrats for jumping to premature conclusions. She reported that some of her constituents in Tennessee are concerned that members of the committee are grandstanding in an “attempt to vilify a corporation.”

Another day in the nation’s capital.

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SUA: No Ghosts Found In Toyotas, More Deaths Claimed In Other Cars Thu, 20 May 2010 12:37:38 +0000

Despite intensive examination of more than 2,000 vehicles, Toyota could not find a ghost in their machines. This is what James Lentz, Toyota’s U.S. sales chief will tell a House of Representatives panel today, if Bloomberg is not mistaken.

Following-up a rash of customer complaints about unintended acceleration, which intensified as media coverage intensified, Toyota conducted 600 on-site inspections and more than 1,400 at its dealerships, the House Energy and Commerce Committee will be told today. “Significantly, none of these investigations have found that our Electronic Throttle Control System with intelligence was the cause,” will be the key sentence in Lentz’s prepared remarks.

The committee members will hear that Toyota technicians found double- or triple-stacked floor mats in the cars of customers that had complained about runaway Toyotas. Customers will need to be made aware of the fact that higher engine speeds can occur when a car is started in cold weather, or when air conditioning kicks in.

But no car computers with a mind of their own, or growing tin whiskers have been found.

In a not totally unrelated story, Bloomberg reported a few days ago, that ”U.S. regulators have tracked more deaths in vehicles made by Ford Motor Co., Chrysler Group LLC and other companies combined than by Toyota Motor Corp. during three decades of unintended acceleration reviews that often blamed human error.”

59 of 110 fatalities “attributed to sudden acceleration in National Highway Traffic Safety Administration records occurred in vehicles other than those sold by Toyota, whose recalls have drawn widespread attention to the issue, according to data compiled for Bloomberg News by the NHTSA,” says the report.  Of the 51 fatalities in Toyota vehicles, 36 were reported after Oct. 5 of last year, following  publicity SUA in Toyotas. “Attributed to” means that someone, usually a lawyer, blamed that car for an accident. “Caused by” would mean that the car was the killer. There are no “caused by” stats.

Since 1980, NHTSA received 15,174 complaints about SUA. 141 complaints triggered investigations, 112 investigations were closed without corrective action. NHTSA repeatedly concluded that crashes occurred because drivers mistakenly stomped on the accelerator. According to Bloomberg, this turned into a policy position that caused investigators to take complaints of runaway vehicles less seriously.

In August 2007, a Toyota employee visited NHTSA, and later wrote that the agency’s staff “laughed or rolled their eyes in disbelief” when he told them he was at their offices as part of a sudden acceleration allegation involving floor mats.

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Toyota Heading For The Hill, Again Sat, 17 Apr 2010 10:27:28 +0000

Toyota received another invitation to join a little congressional chit-chat,  reports The Nikkei [sub]. On May 6th,  a U.S. House panel will hold a hearing to “further examine Toyota’s inquiry into potential electronic causes of sudden unintended acceleration,” as the invitation letter from Henry Waxman to James Lentz, president of Toyota U.S. says. The presence of Lentz is requested at the hearing.

This time, the main topic will be the study of Exponent. Toyota had said the findings of Exponent had exonerated them from any wrongdoing on part of their electronic systems.

Henry Waxman and Bart Stupak asked Toyota to turn over more documents dealing with the company’s relations with Exponent. Waxman and Stupak want to see contracts and email correspondence between Exponent and Toyota.

Not so fast: Exponent was hired by Toyota’s outside law firm. The firm will most likely claim that some of the communications are protected by attorney-client privilege.

Most likely, the line of questioning will be to support the theory that the people at Exponent are paid shills for Toyota.

To which Toyota will reply that their shills answered accusations by a shill hired by a firm doing shill work for plaintiff lawyers. Nah, they won’t say that. It would be the truth.

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Recipes For The Toyota Grill Party On Capitol Hill Sat, 20 Feb 2010 10:52:04 +0000

Akio Toyoda is getting a crash course in cross-cultural studies, while he is preparing for his appearance on The Hill this coming Wednesday. Toyota already uncovered the time-tested Washington axiom: “We will fight it tooth and nail, but if we can’t stop it, we might as well dress for it.”

Saturday morning’s Nikkei [sub] greets its readers with the message that “Akio Toyoda’s appearance before Congress on Wednesday could be a chance for the embattled automaker to win back consumer trust in the U.S.”

Hedging a risky bet, the Nikkei adds: “But a poor performance could further undermine its reputation.” To avoid the latter, Toyoda is preparing to counter a three-pronged attack.

Prong #1: What did Toyota know and when did they know it? According to a document submitted by Toyota to the NHTSA, Toyota followed up on customer complaints that accelerator pedals do not return to the idle position smoothly in 2007, but Toyota determined that it wasn’t a safety issue. Some committee members will likely challenge Toyota’s conclusion.

Prong #2: Did Toyota take vigorous and swift action? Or did they try to hide defects and sweep customer complaints under the (loose) carpet, as some contend? The Nikkei thinks Toyoda will repeat last Wednesday’s statement that Toyota “never covers things up or tries to escape from its responsibility.”

Prong #3: Was/is there a defect in the electronic control system that causes the sudden acceleration? Toyoda is expected to reiterate the conclusions of  a third-party investigation, which cleared the on-board computer of any problems.

Let’s hope Toyoda is preparing defenses against a panoply of other prongs, because they will be there.  maybe the leak is intentional, and the disclosure of their defenses is here to lure the attacker into belief that Toyota is ill prepared for other pincer movements that use the tactical high ground of Capitol Hill

The other hope for Toyoda is that the barbecue party will get tired of a grilling that is degraded to slow burn by an interpreter, and that Toyota-friendly esteemed members of the committee will turn on Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and NHTSA Administrator David Strickland. They will also be at the hearing. What did the NHTSA know and when did they know it? What did they do? What about the supposed 34 dead, and where are they buried? LaHood is known to sometimes suffer from verbal diarrhea: Sound bites dog!

Speaking of bodily functions, La Hood could counter that he had to muck out an Augeas stable from the Bush administration, where massive amounts of dung had been produced. Strickland will nod furiously, and the partisan infighting will be on. This has historical precedent. Twice, a typhoon had saved Japan from an invasion by the Mongol hordes. Back to bodily functions, Toyoda will most likely stop by the next Shinto shrine before departure and pray for a lot of wind.

The gods already announced that they are inclined to listen to his prayer: “About 20 people aboard a U.S. passenger aircraft were injured Saturday after it ran into turbulence while it was traveling from Washington D.C. to Narita,” reports the Nikkei this evening.  The airliner had departed from Dulles International Airport at around 2:40 a.m. Saturday, Japan time.  ‘Many passengers were tossed from their seats, bumping into the ceiling.”

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