The Truth About Cars » Recall http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Thu, 30 Jul 2015 21:00:58 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.2 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 editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars » Recall http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com No, Fiat Chrysler Probably Won’t Go Broke Buying Back Used Cars http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/no-fiat-chrysler-probably-wont-go-broke-buying-back-used-cars/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/no-fiat-chrysler-probably-wont-go-broke-buying-back-used-cars/#comments Mon, 27 Jul 2015 22:00:49 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1126033 After this morning’s announcement that Fiat Chrysler Automobiles would be subject to one of the largest civil penalties for an automaker, reports that the automaker could be on the hook for $2.5 billion in cars aren’t true, the automaker said today. “While such amounts may exceed the $20 million, contrary to certain reports, FCA US does […]

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After this morning’s announcement that Fiat Chrysler Automobiles would be subject to one of the largest civil penalties for an automaker, reports that the automaker could be on the hook for $2.5 billion in cars aren’t true, the automaker said today.

“While such amounts may exceed the $20 million, contrary to certain reports, FCA US does not expect that the net cost of providing these additional alternatives will be material to its financial position, liquidity or results of operations,” the automaker said in a statement.

In other words, expect to find some screaming deals on Ram trucks in the next few months.

The automaker announced on its website that not all customers would participate in the buyback plan and that 60 percent of the affected vehicles had been repaired already. That leaves roughly 200,000 cars that could be eligible for free repairs or to be purchased by FCA.

Those vehicles would be purchased at “a price equal to the original purchase price less a reasonable allowance for depreciation plus ten percent,” according to the automaker.

The manufacturer said under the guidelines of the penalty, it would be allowed to resell the recalled trucks to the public.

The vehicles that may be eligible for repurchase are:

• 2009-2012 Ram 1500s

• 2008-2012 Ram 1500 Mega Cab 4×4, Ram 2500 4×4, 3500 4×4, 4500 4×4, 4500 4×4

• 2009 Chrysler Aspen and Dodge Durango

• 2009-2011 Dodge Dakota

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Fiat Chrysler May Have to Take Back 1.5M Defective Jeeps, Rams http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/fiat-chrysler-may-take-back-1-5m-defective-jeeps-rams/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/fiat-chrysler-may-take-back-1-5m-defective-jeeps-rams/#comments Mon, 27 Jul 2015 17:00:21 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1125729 In an order detailing the largest civil penalty for an automaker so far, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said Monday that Fiat Chrysler Automobiles could have to buy back 500,000 defective trucks and accept trade-in above market value for 1 million defective Jeeps . The automaker’s record $105 million fine includes a $70 million […]

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FCA US LLC HQ WTFBBQ

In an order detailing the largest civil penalty for an automaker so far, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said Monday that Fiat Chrysler Automobiles could have to buy back 500,000 defective trucks and accept trade-in above market value for 1 million defective Jeeps .

The automaker’s record $105 million fine includes a $70 million penalty, $20 million set aside for meeting safety standards dictated by the federal bureau and an additional $15 million in penalties if an independent monitor discovers further safety violations.

The record ruling comes after the agency said FCA botched recalls of more than 11 million vehicles for wide ranging issues, including Jeep models with rear gas tanks that could catch fire in rear collisions. The issue has been linked to more than 50 deaths. 

NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind scolded the automaker in a statement Monday announcing the fine.

“Fiat Chrysler’s pattern of poor performance put millions of its customers, and the driving public, at risk,” he said. “This action will provide relief to owners of defective vehicles, will help improve recall performance throughout the auto industry, and gives Fiat Chrysler the opportunity to embrace a proactive safety culture.”

According to a statement by the automaker, Jeep owners who haven’t yet complied with their recall could get a $100 gift card to bring their vehicle into a dealer. Owners of defective Jeep models would also be eligible to trade in their vehicle for $1,000 above fair market value.

In addition to the Jeep fix, FCA will attempt to purchase or fix for free Ram trucks or Chrysler SUVs with a suspension defect that could cause the car to lose control. FCA could resell those fixed cars.

The automaker will have to submit to independent monitoring of its recalls for the next three years, with NHTSA being able to extend that agreement further for an additional year.

Last week, FCA announced it would be recalling 1.4 million cars for a security vulnerability that could allow hackers to remotely take control of a vehicle.

Read the ruling here.

The vehicles that may be eligible for repurchase are:

• 2009-2012 Ram 1500s

• 2008-2012 Ram 1500 Mega Cab 4×4, Ram 2500 4×4, 3500 4×4, 4500 4×4, 4500 4×4

• 2009 Chrysler Aspen and Dodge Durango

• 2009-2011 Dodge Dakota

The vehicles that may be eligible for a $100 gift card for dealer inspection or $1,000 over market value for trade-in are:

• 1993-2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee

• 2002-2007 Jeep Liberty

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FCA Recalls 1.4 Million Cars After Jeep Uconnect Hack http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/jeep-recalls-1-4-million-cars-uconnect-hack/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/jeep-recalls-1-4-million-cars-uconnect-hack/#comments Fri, 24 Jul 2015 18:00:38 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1124881 Fiat Chrysler Automobiles announced that it would voluntary recall 1.4 million vehicles to patch a security exploit that could allow hackers to infiltrate a car’s vital systems. The recall would apply to cars fitted with the Uconnect 8.4-inch touchscreen. A story released by Wired magazine this week detailed two hackers’ system that could take over a Jeep Cherokee […]

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Fiat Chrysler Automobiles announced that it would voluntary recall 1.4 million vehicles to patch a security exploit that could allow hackers to infiltrate a car’s vital systems.

The recall would apply to cars fitted with the Uconnect 8.4-inch touchscreen. A story released by Wired magazine this week detailed two hackers’ system that could take over a Jeep Cherokee and control the car’s systems, including throttle, braking and steering.

Jeep released the update last week, saying the patch was for “nothing in particular” and that they “continuously test vehicles systems to identify vulnerabilities and develop solutions.”

The release required owners to download the update onto a USB drive and install it themselves, or go to a dealership. FCA will mail affected owners a USB drive with the update now.

According to FCA, the company is unaware of any injuries related to the hack.

In a statement by the company, FCA says they’ve also implemented network-level security measures to prevent further hacks.

“Further, FCA US has applied network-level security measures to prevent the type of remote manipulation demonstrated in a recent media report. These measures – which required no customer or dealer actions – block remote access to certain vehicle systems and were fully tested and implemented within the cellular network on July 23, 2015.”

The affected models, according to FCA are:

  • 2013-2015 Dodge Viper
  • 2013-2015 Ram 1500, 2500 and 3500 pickups
  • 2013-2015 Ram 3500, 4500, 5500 Chassis Cabs
  • 2014-2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee and Cherokee SUVs
  • 2014-2015 Dodge Durango SUVs
  • 2015 MY Chrysler 200, Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger sedans
  • 2015 Dodge Challenger

Owners can check an FCA site to see if their VIN is included in the recall.

FCA said the hack required extensive work and was not a defect:

The software manipulation addressed by this recall required unique and extensive technical knowledge, prolonged physical access to a subject vehicle and extended periods of time to write code.

No defect has been found. FCA US is conducting this campaign out of an abundance of caution.

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Feds Investigating General Motors Over ‘Certified’ Used Cars http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/feds-investigating-general-motors-certified-used-cars/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/feds-investigating-general-motors-certified-used-cars/#comments Thu, 23 Jul 2015 20:00:31 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1124233 General Motors disclosed in its quarterly Securities and Exchange Commission filing Thursday that the Federal Trade Commission is investigating the automaker for selling used cars under recall, the Detroit News is reporting. According to the automaker, the FTC notified GM that it was investigating “certified pre-owned vehicle advertising where dealers had certified vehicles allegedly needing recall repairs.” […]

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General Motors Renaissance Center HQ

General Motors disclosed in its quarterly Securities and Exchange Commission filing Thursday that the Federal Trade Commission is investigating the automaker for selling used cars under recall, the Detroit News is reporting.

According to the automaker, the FTC notified GM that it was investigating “certified pre-owned vehicle advertising where dealers had certified vehicles allegedly needing recall repairs.”

The filing acknowledges the investigation is connected with the 2014 recall of 2.59 million cars with faulty ignition switches that could turn the car off while driving, disabling its airbags. So far, 124 deaths have been linked to the defect.

The investigation is significant partially because a bill winding through Congress would significantly change penalties associated with defective cars. This week, a Senate committee shot down a proposal that would have forced used car dealers to complete recall repairs on vehicles for sale. A similar measure compelling rental car companies to fix defective cars in their fleets survived.

GM is being investigated by the U.S. Department of Justice as well as attorneys general in every state for issues related to the faulty ignition switches. GM could be fined and face criminal penalties from the Justice Department.

“We continue to investigate these matters and believe we are cooperating fully with all requests for information in ongoing investigations. Such investigations could in the future result in the imposition of material damages, fines, civil consent orders, civil and criminal penalties or other remedies,” GM wrote in their filing.

 

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DIY Recall: Fix Your Fire-prone Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon with Toyota Parts http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/diy-recall-fix-fire-prone-chevy-colorado-gmc-canyon-toyota-parts/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/diy-recall-fix-fire-prone-chevy-colorado-gmc-canyon-toyota-parts/#comments Thu, 23 Jul 2015 15:00:53 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1122313   The fire-risk blower motor resistor harness has been recalled in the Hummer H3 and owners will start receiving repairs once parts become available. Owners of the Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky should be able to use the updated parts as well but will have to pay out of pocket as General Motors has not […]

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Left: Updated Tacoma Resistor, Right: Colorado Resistor

Left: Updated Tacoma Resistor, Right: Colorado Resistor

The fire-risk blower motor resistor harness has been recalled in the Hummer H3 and owners will start receiving repairs once parts become available. Owners of the Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky should be able to use the updated parts as well but will have to pay out of pocket as General Motors has not recalled them at this time. The Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon also use a similar design and pose a similar fire risk but are slightly different than the recalled part due to having one less blower speed.

Hummer owners will most likely wait a few months minimum for the updated parts to get to their dealers to perform their free recall repairs. Colorado and Canyon owners may be waiting much longer — if they are recalled at all. The only silver lining for the Colorado and Canyon is that they use a similar resistor to the Toyota Tacoma and share a connector. The Tacoma also suffered from blower motor resistor issues and received updated parts along with a Technical Service Bulletin in 2011.

Left: Colorado Resistor, Right: Old Design Tacoma Resistor

Left: Colorado Resistor, Right: Old Design Tacoma Resistor

The original resistors for the Colorado and Tacoma were produced by KRAH-RWI in Slovenia while the new Tacoma part is made by Denso in Japan. The updated part from Toyota features a better resistor style that runs cooler, but the important part is in the connector pins.

The pins on the new part are thicker and prevent the connector from losing contact, reducing the chance for arcing that’s been the cause of the fires. The mounting holes and sealing surface are exactly the same between the Colorado and the Tacoma parts and the resistance values are similar enough to work properly and allow all speeds to be operational.

Left: Old Tacoma Design, Right: New Thicker Pin Tacoma Design

Left: Old Tacoma Design, Right: New Thicker Pin Tacoma Design

The updated resistor is available as part number 87138-04052 from Toyota and other vendors for around $27, while the harness pigtail is part number 82141-04M40 and runs about $23 with shipping. The Toyota resistor can also use the original GM connector if it’s not damaged. Colorado owners started using the Toyota resistor around 2012 and have reported that it is successful in resolving their issues.

The best scenario is for GM to issue a recall and cover the repairs — but in the absence of that, the Toyota parts are well worth the $50 to give yourself some insurance against a fiery end for your truck. It is worth noting that if you’re unable to do the repair yourself you can expect to be charged for two hours of labor from a qualified shop to complete the repair, raising your total repair cost to around $250.

[Image Source: Bluebanditz71/355nation.net and Gregman/tacomaworld.com]

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Pontiac Solstice, Saturn Sky Share Same Fire-Risk Parts with Hummer H3 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/pontiac-solstice-saturn-sky-catching-fire-due-parts-hummer-h3-recall/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/pontiac-solstice-saturn-sky-catching-fire-due-parts-hummer-h3-recall/#comments Mon, 20 Jul 2015 15:00:15 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1118569 Last week, we learned General Motors was recalling the majority of their Hummer H3 and H3T models due to a fire risk from a melting blower motor resistor and harness. We also learned GM didn’t issue the recall until they were threatened by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. A few days ago, Jalopnik’s Michael Ballaban pointed out the […]

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Last week, we learned General Motors was recalling the majority of their Hummer H3 and H3T models due to a fire risk from a melting blower motor resistor and harness. We also learned GM didn’t issue the recall until they were threatened by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

A few days ago, Jalopnik’s Michael Ballaban pointed out the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon were also at risk due to similar components. These trucks may not be the last of the affected models as the Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky also shared many HVAC components with the Hummer H3.

Searching through the NHTSA complaints database and user forums yielded many examples of melted and burnt blower motor resistors and harnesses for the GM roadster twins.

The Solstice and Sky actually have more parts in common with the H3 than even the Colorado and Canyon. While the trucks use a similar resistor with four pins, the Solstice and Sky use the same 5-pin resistor as the H3. Curiously enough, the roadsters and H3/H3T share a host of HVAC components, including the blower motor, blend door actuators and even the heater core.

Searching Solstice and Sky forums also produced case after case of melted harnesses and resistors. Many of the owners were buying the parts and replacing them on their own.

saturn1

The problem may stem from a harness that is either too short or too loose, causing arcing on the connection and resulting in melted components. The initial part number for the harness is 25797383, but it is no longer available under that number. The initial part was succeeded and released as part number 25867517 — then again as 25949869, the part that is currently available for purchase.

Part numbers can change for many reasons, including vendor changes, but I speculate in this case that GM may have changed the part to try and remedy its issues.

saturn2

Based on NHTSA records, the earliest complaints for the roadsters started showing up in 2008.

While the number of complaints for the Solstice and Sky is much lower than the H3, lower production numbers must also be taken into account when comparing total complaint counts to the H3. Despite fairly widespread issues with similar parts found on the H3,owners of Kappa-platform cars haven’t reported problems at the same rate.

The H3 recall states dealers should replace the harness and resistor module, both of which are shared parts. The 2006 Chevrolet Equinox and Pontiac Torrent use the same part number for the resistor as the H3, Sky and Solstice. There are cases of multiple failures and, as noted in the complaint below, they also show GM was directly notified of the issue. The Equinox and Torrent moved to a different resistor design after 2006 and the issues seem to have been mitigated after that point.

equinox1
GM has not issued any recalls or bulletins for these other vehicles, even though complaints and pictures of damage appear to match the H3 issues. The part number changes could be an attempt by GM to remedy the issue before a recall was required, but as we have seen before, GM can take up to a decade to actually acknowledge issues and will keep silent and order parts to try and quietly repair vehicles.

The proof is out there and the right thing for GM to do is recall all of the related models.

[Image Source: hammy221/solsticeforum.com]

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Report: Hummer Recall Only Happened After NHTSA Threatened GM http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/report-hummer-recall-happened-nhtsa-threatened-gm/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/report-hummer-recall-happened-nhtsa-threatened-gm/#comments Tue, 14 Jul 2015 21:00:47 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1115425 Jalopnik has an interesting story today about how General Motors negotiated its way into recalling 200,000 Hummers only after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration threatened to launch a formal investigation. Last week, Hummer recalled nearly 200,000 SUVs due to an increased fire risk because of a faulty HVAC harness that could melt and catch fire. GM knew about the problem […]

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Hummer H3. Photo courtesy wikipedia.org

Jalopnik has an interesting story today about how General Motors negotiated its way into recalling 200,000 Hummers only after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration threatened to launch a formal investigation.

Last week, Hummer recalled nearly 200,000 SUVs due to an increased fire risk because of a faulty HVAC harness that could melt and catch fire.

GM knew about the problem in 2008, Jalopnik writes, and did nothing until issuing a recall this July.

The story details a growing schism between NHTSA and automakers, who’ve been accused of having a cozy relationship before.

Officials at GM presented NHTSA officials with their accounting of the increased fire risk in Hummer H3 and H3T models in January. When federal officials audited the numbers later, they discovered a larger number of incidents than what GM may have reported.

According to Jalopnik, federal safety officials gave GM an ultimatum in June: recall or risk a federal investigation. GM issued a recall notice on July 9.

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Senate Bill Proposes Recall Warning Light on Your Dash http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/senate-bills-propose-sweeping-reforms-nhtsa-recall-policies/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/senate-bills-propose-sweeping-reforms-nhtsa-recall-policies/#comments Fri, 10 Jul 2015 22:00:54 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1113297   Two proposals for reforms to how the U.S. handles safety recalls and penalizes automakers are winding through a Senate committee. A proposal backed by three Senate Democrats would make automakers include a recall warning light in the dashboard of new cars to notify owners of a safety recall and lift the cap on delayed recall […]

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A recalled Chevy Cobalt ignition switch is seen at Raymond Chevrolet in Antioch

 

Two proposals for reforms to how the U.S. handles safety recalls and penalizes automakers are winding through a Senate committee.

A proposal backed by three Senate Democrats would make automakers include a recall warning light in the dashboard of new cars to notify owners of a safety recall and lift the cap on delayed recall fines and more. A less-aggressive proposal put forward by Republicans would require dealers to notify owners if their cars have been recalled, something most automakers already do but aren’t required by law.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that 25 percent of recalls are never completed.

The Democrat-backed bill may not have life beyond headlines, however. Included in the bill were sweeping proposals to empower NHTSA to expedite recalls, charge and prosecute auto executives for fatal safety flaws and grant NHTSA special investigative powers, according to the Detroit News.

The larger proposal would also require new- and used-car dealers to apply all recalls to vehicles before they’re sold. Currently, dealers are only required to perform recall fixes on cars that haven’t been sold yet.

Some of the measures may have legs beyond the bill’s demise, however. The Democrat proposal includes making mandatory crash avoidance systems and allow NHTSA to investigate people who hack vehicle electronics that could “endanger public safety.”

The Democrat proposal also lifts the 10-year cap on automakers’ responsibilities to pay for or fix defects in their cars. The Republican proposal doesn’t lift that cap.

The recall reforms are partly due to extremely public, and extremely embarrassing, recall issues with General Motors and airbag maker Takata.

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GM Recalls 200K Hummers Due to Fire Risk http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/gm-recalling-200k-hummers-due-fire-risk/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/gm-recalling-200k-hummers-due-fire-risk/#comments Thu, 09 Jul 2015 18:00:12 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1112169 General Motors is recalling nearly 200,000 Hummer H3 and H3T models due to an increased fire risk, Autoblog is reporting. According to the automaker, the car’s HVAC system can overheat and melt surrounding plastic, which could increase the chance for a fire in the car. GM says the fire has burned 42 cars and injured […]

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Hummer H3. Photo courtesy wikipedia.org

General Motors is recalling nearly 200,000 Hummer H3 and H3T models due to an increased fire risk, Autoblog is reporting.

According to the automaker, the car’s HVAC system can overheat and melt surrounding plastic, which could increase the chance for a fire in the car. GM says the fire has burned 42 cars and injured three people so far, but no crashes or fatalities have been reported. The recall effects 2006-2010 H3 models and 2009-2010 H3T cars.

Dealers are being instructed to replace the harness and connector module for the blowers in the SUVs. In total, 194,379 cars are being recalled, 164,993 are in the U.S.

A separate, but unrelated recall, more than 50,000 Chevrolet Sparks and Sonics are being recalled due to a malfunction in the OnStar system’s software that can lock up the car’s radio and seatbelt warning signal. The malfunction may drain the battery, the automaker said.

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FCA Awaits NHTSA’s Wrath After Recall Hearings http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/fca-awaits-nhtsas-wrath-recall-hearings/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/fca-awaits-nhtsas-wrath-recall-hearings/#comments Fri, 03 Jul 2015 17:00:48 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1107233 Yesterday, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration took the unusual step of hauling a single automaker to the Capitol to scold Fiat Chrysler for delays in recalls and repairs. The hearing is ahead of anticipated fines NHTSA may deal later this month, possibly as high as $700 million. Attention was focused on Jeep Liberties and Grand […]

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1999 Grand Cherokee Launch-12

Yesterday, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration took the unusual step of hauling a single automaker to the Capitol to scold Fiat Chrysler for delays in recalls and repairs. The hearing is ahead of anticipated fines NHTSA may deal later this month, possibly as high as $700 million.

Attention was focused on Jeep Liberties and Grand Cherokees with rear-mounted gas tanks that could leak fuel if struck in a high-speed rear collision and potentially catch fire. Also of importance is the rate at which Jeep notified its owners of the recall.

FCA’s Senior Vice President for Vehicle Safety and Regulatory Compliance Scott Kunselman said at the hearing that FCA “could have done better in carrying out the campaigns.”


Owners of Grand Cherokees and Liberty SUVs had trailer hitches installed on their cars that could protect in low- to moderate-speed impact collisions. Eric Mayne, a spokesman for FCA, said that NHTSA tested the trailer hitches and found them to perform similarly to their peers.

A Massachusetts father testified at the hearing, saying his 17-year-old son was killed when the Grand Cherokee he was driving was struck and ignited. The issue has been linked to more than 50 deaths.

A second recall was recently issued for faulty wiring that could disable airbags.

NHTSA “tentatively concluded” FCA didn’t address the recalls in time, or adequately. Despite issuing a recall in June 2013, NHTSA said only 23 percent of the cars had been fixed by the end of April. FCA said that figure is now around 33 percent.

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FCA Defects from Takata, Finds Solace with TRW for Airbag Inflators http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/fca-defects-from-takata-finds-solace-with-trw-for-airbag-inflators/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/fca-defects-from-takata-finds-solace-with-trw-for-airbag-inflators/#comments Tue, 23 Jun 2015 17:00:19 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1097793 FCA, looking a 4.1 million unit recall in the face thanks to defective Takata airbag inflators, will source replacements from a rival, ZF-owned TRW Automotive. The Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep/Ram parent will be the first company to refuse to toe the line. While the announcement has not yet been made official, The Detroit News obtained “copies of the written […]

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FCA US HQ

FCA, looking a 4.1 million unit recall in the face thanks to defective Takata airbag inflators, will source replacements from a rival, ZF-owned TRW Automotive.

The Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep/Ram parent will be the first company to refuse to toe the line.

While the announcement has not yet been made official, The Detroit News obtained “copies of the written testimony from the executives ahead of Tuesday’s hearing” before the Senate Commerce Committee.

Scott G. Kunselman, FCA U.S. senior vice president and head of vehicle safety and regulatory compliance, said in written testimony the company is “replacing all driver-side inflators involved in the recall with an alternate and permanent design provided by TRW,” effective June 8.

That does not mean FCA is leaving Takata full stop. The two companies are working together to improve passenger airbag inflators, says the report.

A total of eleven automakers have been affected by the recalls.

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While You Were Sleeping: Takata Recall Drinking Game Edition http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/while-you-were-sleeping-takata-recall-drinking-game-edition/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/while-you-were-sleeping-takata-recall-drinking-game-edition/#comments Fri, 29 May 2015 10:26:00 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1077834 Yesterday evening, I appeared on the CTV News Channel in The Great White North to talk about Takata’s latest recalls. As a consequence, I’ve learned I look like Patrick from SpongeBob SquarePants when I frown. Here are the rules for our Takata Recall Drinking Game. One (1) nip every time I say “Ummm.” Two (2) sips […]

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Mark Stevenson on CTV News

Yesterday evening, I appeared on the CTV News Channel in The Great White North to talk about Takata’s latest recalls. As a consequence, I’ve learned I look like Patrick from SpongeBob SquarePants when I frown.

Here are the rules for our Takata Recall Drinking Game.

  • One (1) nip every time I say “Ummm.”
  • Two (2) sips for every time I say “explosion.”
  • Three (3) shots of sake for each time Dan or I mention Takata by name.
  • Four (4) shots if you can screenshot a worse image than the one at top and post a link to it in the comments.

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Piston Slap: The Body Control Module Electric? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/piston-slap-body-control-module-electric/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/piston-slap-body-control-module-electric/#comments Wed, 27 May 2015 12:00:22 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1074898 Gary writes: Good Afternoon, Today when I got into my 2002 Saturn SL2, the power door locks started chattering. Each door, over the space of about 45 minutes, had the same thing happen. Sometimes it would be one at a time, other times it would be two or more. I also noticed that the inside […]

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Gary writes:

Good Afternoon,

Today when I got into my 2002 Saturn SL2, the power door locks started chattering. Each door, over the space of about 45 minutes, had the same thing happen. Sometimes it would be one at a time, other times it would be two or more. I also noticed that the inside locks – the “up/down” button, not the little lever you use to manually unlock the car – would not work, only later to work. For now I have removed the lock fuse and that stopped the problem. I wait and plug the fuse back in, and the sporadic chattering once again begins. Sometimes it is completely quiet. Any thoughts?

Thank you!

Sajeev answers:

Whenever a problem like this occurs, I blame something Body Control Module like. When guidance systems break down? When there’s a struggle to exist? To resist?  That’s not a mere switch panel or short in chassis wiring. Oh no, Son, this is some heavy duty FAIL right here.

A body control module that’s scared out of its wits is the only culprit behind such berserk behavior. My apologies to the TTAC mothership (and all Torontonians) for such a shameful riding of RUSH’s coattails.

 

bcm

1-0-0-1-0-0-1… (photo courtesy: saturnfans.com)

If I’m right, the video (below) is helpful. Ditto this Saturn forum link, complete with the body control module’s pinouts for your testing pleasure. A replacement is over $200 at Rockauto, rebuilders on eBay want over $150 for the privilege. So you’d be wise to test the wiring, get a factory shop manual and perhaps learn the proper BCM diagnosis method.

And don’t forget the BCM recall, too!

 

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. 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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Piston Slap: A Tale of Mastercrafted, Aftermarket Dubs http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/piston-slap-tale-mastercrafted-aftermarket-dubs/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/piston-slap-tale-mastercrafted-aftermarket-dubs/#comments Mon, 06 Apr 2015 12:18:47 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1038753 Jimmy writes: I hope this new year finds you well. Back in 2007 I bought a new Hyundai Santa Fe. Nothing special, no ABS or four wheel drive. But it did have 20”s on it with low profile 12 inch wide tires. Later that year I had the chance to drive it in the snow. First […]

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IMG_8744

(photo courtesy: svtrichie @ www.Hyundaiforums.com)

Jimmy writes:

I hope this new year finds you well. Back in 2007 I bought a new Hyundai Santa Fe. Nothing special, no ABS or four wheel drive. But it did have 20”s on it with low profile 12 inch wide tires. Later that year I had the chance to drive it in the snow. First time ever. Was not a good time. 

The only thing I know about snow is take it slow. And that’s what I did. Driving down to the end of my block I gently pressed the brake to slow down easy. No problem, I’m almost stopped and got ready to make a right hand turn. When some where under 10 MPH the rear end whipped around and I found myself sitting sideways in the middle of the street. It took me some time to unclinch my anal orifice from the drivers seat.

I thought driving in snow was closer to suicide but I had to pay the gas bill if I wanted to keep the heat on.

The next four stop signs were no problem. But on the fifth stop sigh I had to make a left turn. And just like the first stop sign, the back end slid around to the right. Having never driven in the snow, I didn’t know if this was normal or not. Either way it sucked. Took it too the dealer and had it checked out. No problem. But of course no snow then either.

I just got the car back from the dealer after it’s secound oil change. It was cold but not snowing. It was 9 a.m. no wind. The snow wasn’t melting. And the roads were in good repair. The snow itself was 12 inches deep and even across the road. I was the first one down the road.

Their is no problem breaking on any other surface. During a hard rain last week I tried to make it do something stupid. It always stopped streight and true. These were not snow tires. They were Mastercraft with less then 7 thousand miles on them.

In each case I don’t think I was going more then 7 MPH. Is that too fast ?

I don’t know if this should go on the board or not. I’ll let you decide. I had one of the tires on my Hyundai Santa Fe come apart from the tire case. I took it to the dealer who said, those arn’t Hyundai tires or rims we won’t fix it under warranty. Makes since, not factory tires, but installed by the dealer. So I went to where they did the install. They said if I didn’t buy it from them, their’s no warranty. Before hitting the dealer I looked up “MASTERFCRAFT TIRES” on the internet.

They had a recall for the tires I had. But still no warranty. I’m still pissed off. 1650.00 dollars for a new set of Goodyears. Mastercraft tires according to tirerack.com had a price of 225 each with 80 thousand mile warranty. My tires didn’t make it past 7 thousand miles. Also screwed up some body work. But it did remind me to put a lug wrench in car to fit my fancy rims. After auto club took 4 hours to come and change the tire. On the first hot day of the year.

I don’t blame the dealer. After all it was almost a year since I bought the car and the window sticker did not have anything on it about the rims and tires. But I do think the mastercraft dealer should have done something.

As a side note: I was originally going to buy a Honda Pick-up SUV thing. But I went on my favorite site, TTAC, and found out the little Honda gets crappy gas milage. I did take the Honda for a test drive, and I couldn’t get the sales man to tell me exactly how many miles to gallon it gets. Just like TTAC predicted.

Thanks for the vent.

Sajeev answers:

My luck with off-brand tires on daily driven machines is horrible.  After enduring several sets of shamefully bad Maxima (off brand Generals) and Mastercraft tires on vehicles that eventually became my hand-me-downs, I said never more…except for limited use vehicles like my imported Ford Sierra with impossible to find rubber sizes.

And when you combine off-brand all-season tires, aftermarket 20″ wheels and snowy/icy conditions? Oh my damn, son…

That’s a terrible combination. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with big aftermarket wheels, in theory.  But they weren’t designed with your car’s suspension in mind, and those “recalled” tires were probably sub-par from day one. My advice?

Simple: keep the Dubs for the summer, if you really like them.  You need a proper set of winter wheel and tires (factory 16-17″ sizes) so you can go much faster than 7-mph on city streets. You could go, like, 14mph instead. Awesome.

 

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. 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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Piston Slap: Even More Honda Slushbox FAIL? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/piston-slap-even-honda-slushbox-fail/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/piston-slap-even-honda-slushbox-fail/#comments Thu, 26 Feb 2015 13:39:24 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1007970 TTAC commentator Land Ark writes: Hello again Sajeev! Before my new Honda question, just an update on the issue you helped me with previously. Short answer: I sold the Civic and made a few hundred bucks. The more I looked into it, the more I started to come to the realization that there likely was […]

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Click here to view the embedded video.

TTAC commentator Land Ark writes:

Hello again Sajeev!

Before my new Honda question, just an update on the issue you helped me with previously. Short answer: I sold the Civic and made a few hundred bucks. The more I looked into it, the more I started to come to the realization that there likely was nothing wrong with the AC system, it was just not a good system.

On to my new question:

My coworker, who drives cars into the ground, recently lost his high mile 2006 Caravan to an accident. He asked me for some advice then ventured out on his own and bought a new van; a 2006 Honda Odyssey with 71k miles. As soon as I saw it I cringed.

When I first saw him that morning I mentioned the, ummm,  concern I would have buying a V6 Honda of that generation. Namely the transmission issues. He respects my opinion and knowledge of such matters and started doing his own digging and has come to the conclusion that he needs to sell it and get something else (it still has temporary tags on it).

I feel terrible, as I realize not ALL Odysseys will succumb to transmission problems. But at the same time, I don’t know the best way to put it into perspective. So my question is, what is the known failure rate of 2006(-ish) trannys? Is it simply a case of only reading about people mentioning their broken cars and never about cars that are running fine?

He got a pretty good deal on it and other than the trans I wouldn’t have any concerns. And since he keeps cars for a really long time I have greater concerns than the average car buyer. So what do we think?

Sajeev answers:

Oh boy, it’s been a while since we did an HTF, a Honda Transmission FAIL.

There was a recall for 2004-older models, even if not everyone is thrilled with it. And it’s less than reassuring when you Google up “OdysseyTransmission.com” with a collection of 2006 Odyssey owners’ complaints. But is that really the point?

Any used minivan could have a failing tranny: these machines are designed to handle a certain load with their high horsepower V6s, but their trasnsaxles (and cooling systems) are often marginal as they are based on a car. But their owners are more than willing to exceed that need, car-DNA weak links be damned.

If this Odyssey has clean ATF in the unit, will another minivan in his price range be any better? Maybe he should install some aftermarket coolers (a la YouTube video above) and call it done. This Odyssey is one of the nicer used minivans, fit and finish wise. And that’s a sweet lookin’ pair of custom made coolers in the conversion kit. No chintzy zip-tie things for this YouTube guy!

Capture

boing! (photo courtesy: YouTube)

Tthat’s a tough question.  You won’t see me guessing on this one…son!

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. 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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Piston Slap: Less Slap, More (oil) Control http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/piston-slap-less-slap-oil-control/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/piston-slap-less-slap-oil-control/#comments Tue, 26 Aug 2014 12:57:41 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=898410 Pete writes: Hey Sajeev, I got one for you. Several engines nowadays are set up to operate on half their cylinders under light-load conditions. Would the design considerations for piston rings vary from those normally used for such cylinders that are only used part-time? The question arises in the context of a 2009 V6 Accord […]

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(photo courtesy: autozone.com)

(photo courtesy: autozone.com)

Pete writes:

Hey Sajeev, I got one for you.

Several engines nowadays are set up to operate on half their cylinders under light-load conditions. Would the design considerations for piston rings vary from those normally used for such cylinders that are only used part-time? The question arises in the context of a 2009 V6 Accord that is currently in the Honda dealer’s shop to have the piston rings replaced at the manufacturer’s expense to cure a continual oil consumption and spark plug fouling problem.

Sajeev answers:

We learned from a previous Piston Slap that General Motors answered your query:  the displacement-on-demand (DoD) 5.3L truck motor (and its sister, LS4-FTW?) needs new and redesigned piston rings to cut oil consumption in the four deactivated cylinders. The motors still (supposedly) performs as intended with strong compression from the compression rings, oil burning is only a shameful side effect. Not to make a molehill out of a mountain, but that’s it.

Or perhaps turn off DoD with a computer re-flash, since there’s no free lunch in this business: if you want fuel economy, buy a lighter, trimmer and smaller engined vehicle. But I digress…

Honda, operating under the same Laws of Physics (Thermodynamics?) has the same DoD problem. In theory, the design of the “oil control” piston rings is crucial: more info is in this insanely detailed article. Definitely great bedtime reading for the Pistonhead.

Honda’s Class Action lawsuit doesn’t seem to hurt Odyssey or Accord resale values, so dump it if you wish. Or regularly check your oil level and spark plug condition, doing so lets affected V6 Honda products live a long and happy-ish life. Heck, this much oil consumption (1-3 quarts per high mileage oil change) was once the norm (during old school 3000 mi intervals) and that’s without DoD’s inherent fuel savings.

But that fact remains: save fuel or save oil? Pick one, son.

 

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. 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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Piston Slap: Eye On Ignition Safety Recalls? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/piston-slap-eye-on-ignition-safety-recalls/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/piston-slap-eye-on-ignition-safety-recalls/#comments Mon, 16 Jun 2014 12:20:06 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=840690 Bruce writes: Sajeev, A couple of years ago my son bought a 2004 Saturn Ion sedan from a friend of ours. It has about 90,000 miles on the clock and ran fine…until I insisted that he bring it in and get the ignition recall done. A few weeks after the recall work was completed, he […]

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Don't take it to the Red Line! (photo courtesy: http://article.wn.com)

Bruce writes:

Sajeev,

A couple of years ago my son bought a 2004 Saturn Ion sedan from a friend of ours. It has about 90,000 miles on the clock and ran fine…until I insisted that he bring it in and get the ignition recall done. A few weeks after the recall work was completed, he was driving on 2 lane road at about 40 miles per hour and the car competely shut down…no power steering, weak power brakes. He was glad he wasn’t going faster & he wrestled the car into a parking lot, let it sit for a while, restarted it and drove home. He called the local GM dealership and they downplayed the incident and told him to bring it in at his convenience.

Now I’m really scared for him. Any advice?

Sajeev answers:

Oh dear. I guess this corner of TTAC couldn’t remain silent on the ignition recall debacle forever. That said, your letter makes me wonder if there’s another problem on this 10-ish year old machine: the Saturn had to “sit for a while” before starting back up?

Are you absolutely, positively sure the ignition switch is to blame?

Bruce replies:

Not sure yet. I’m wondering if they even replaced the switch in the first place. Poor 24 y.o. kid doesn’t have $ to buy another car so he’s stuck with this one. He called Saturn 800 number at my insistence and Saturn called his local Chevy dealer and the service mgr called him and scheduled an appt. The first ignition repair took 2 months and he enjoyed an Altima, which was fine with him, lol. According to Saturn, he’s eligible for another rental. The saga continues….Thanks Sajeev!

Sajeev concludes:

The worst thing you can do now is stress out: nothing good comes from stress when you’re detached from the repair process. That said, I am not a father: I couldn’t possibly understand your anguish. But I can say the problem isn’t hidden in some file cabinet, locked in a dark room in the RenCen. Everyone is watching and there’s a system in place to fix the problem.

Every company goes into super-customer-service-savvy crisis mode in times like these. And here’s the plan to mitigate the crisis:

And this is cold comfort to you, sadly. A high level infographic isn’t reassuring when you must go through the steps again.  Luckily GM is willing to put your son in another rental, just make sure your son does step #1 and #2 until he’s in that rental.

Then have the dealer report back with a diagnosis.  If you don’t like the diagnosis/resolution…well, perhaps we should just hope that the problem is found and fixed. Running through the plethora of scenarios only increases the stress level, it doesn’t help one iota.

How would you handle this, Best and Brightest?

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GM Recalls Every Fifth Generation Camaro http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/gm-recalls-every-fifth-generation-camaro/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/gm-recalls-every-fifth-generation-camaro/#comments Fri, 13 Jun 2014 14:37:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=843545 General Motors has recalled 511,,528 Camaros – that is, every single current generation Camaro ever made – for a defect involving the ignition key fob being inadvertently bumped and switched to “off”. According to GM, General Motors will recall all current generation Chevrolet Camaros because a driver’s knee can bump the key FOB and cause […]

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camaro

General Motors has recalled 511,,528 Camaros – that is, every single current generation Camaro ever made – for a defect involving the ignition key fob being inadvertently bumped and switched to “off”.

According to GM,

General Motors will recall all current generation Chevrolet Camaros because a driver’s knee can bump the key FOB and cause the key to inadvertently move out of the “run” position, with a corresponding reduction or loss of power. 

The issue, which may primarily affect drivers sitting close to the steering column, was discovered by GM during internal testing following the ignition switch recall earlier this year.

GM is apparently aware of three crashes and four minor injuries that can be attributed to this problem. The Camaro recall is part of a wider recall that can be viewed here.

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Analysis: Why Isn’t NHTSA Sharing The Blame With GM? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/analysis-why-isnt-nhtsa-sharing-the-blame-with-gm/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/analysis-why-isnt-nhtsa-sharing-the-blame-with-gm/#comments Fri, 06 Jun 2014 15:54:43 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=838473 As many of you know by now, the Valukas report on GM’s handling of the ignition switch depicts a fat, complex organization that is deeply broken. A company with so many incompetent cogs, it is incapable of coordinating a surprise birthday party let alone a conspiracy. And that’s the most alarming part of the report – […]

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GM

As many of you know by now, the Valukas report on GM’s handling of the ignition switch depicts a fat, complex organization that is deeply broken. A company with so many incompetent cogs, it is incapable of coordinating a surprise birthday party let alone a conspiracy. And that’s the most alarming part of the report – that none of the employees appear to have acted in malice or colluded to save money or protect the brand. Instead the report paints a picture of apathetic, lazy employees and an even more careless litany of incoherent processes in the mission to detect and address vehicle safety defects.

This is far more dangerous than any calculated, unscrupulous group of executives colluding to hide a safety issue. Incompetency, whether it is in engineering, investigations or the administration of both means defects just simply go unnoticed and as such unresolved.  In terms of corporate responsibility it’s the equivalent of a juvenile “whatev” *shoulder shrug*.

While Ray DeGiorgio, the engineer behind the infamous undocumented part change, is mostly to blame for delaying the connection between the ignition switch and airbag non-deployments,  the corporate mentality that something as vital as your ignition turning off can relegated to a “convenience issue” is scary. But this applies doubly to NHTSA as well. Remember America’s vehicle safety overseer received GM’s TSB regarding the ignition switch in 2005 and gave it the government nod.

While GM is responsible for the safety of its vehicles should NHTSA share in the blame?

The Valukas report references a crash investigation conducted by Indiana University’s Transportation Research Center of a 2006 fatal single-vehicle accident involving a 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt in Wisconsin (pictured). The Valukas report says that GM had not seen that university’s 26-page report until 2014 even though it was found on GM’s servers.Crashed Cobalt WIS

The accident investigation was conducted at the request of NHTSA and references the 2005 TSB, confirms via EDR (electronic data recorder) that the ignition switch was in the accessory position during the crash and hypothesized that the ignition switch was one of two theories as to why the airbags failed to deploy. The other theory being that the first impact with a smaller telephone box may have signaled to the smart airbags that a deployment was not appropriate.

The team conducting the on-site investigation of the accident did not look closely at the link between the ignition switch and loss of power to the airbag because “such an undertaking was beyond the scope of this investigation.”  If the goal of the report was to determine the cause of the airbag non-deployment how could the relationship between the ignition switch and the loss of power to the airbag not have been within scope?

The university team provided the report to NHTSA in 2007. One page two of the report, the Technical Document Page, they state that the loss of power from a faulty ignition switch was one of two theories as to why the airbags did not deploy.  Did NHTSA take this and share it formally with GM? If not, why not? Are these reports reviewed by senior officials or are they simply rubber stamped and archived? Are potential defects identified referred from Special Crash Investigations (SCI), the division that requested this report, to the Office of Defects and Investigations (ODI), the group responsible for “undertaking” safety defect reviews? Could it be that NHTSA is as bureaucratically mismanaged as GM?

Keep in mind that unlike GM, NHTSA only has one single mission – oversight of vehicle safety. They are not surrounded by temptations like pleasing shareholders, cost targets or individual performance gains. Then again, given recent reports on employees at the Veterans Affairs Administration, maybe safety employees have some obscure rewarding metric on closing cases.

Last month the Department of Transportation Inspector General announced a review of NHTSA’s handling of the ignition switch recall among other things. In their review the IG should consider looking into the general information sharing practices between SCI and ODI when it comes to vehicle defects.

While the Valukus Report was intended to focus on GM’s handling of the defective part, it raises questions about the effectiveness of federal regulators who had similar (if not more) information than GM regarding the ignition failures and the non-deployment of airbags.

While Mr. Valukus and Ms. Barra will testify before Congress soon, NHTSA won’t likely be called to the Hill upon the completion of the Inspector General’s review. Depending on the IG review, we could learn more about if or how much blame NHTSA could share with GM in the timely discovery and remedy of vehicle safety defects.

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GM’s Recall Mania Hits Suzuki http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/gms-recall-mania-hits-suzuki/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/gms-recall-mania-hits-suzuki/#comments Fri, 23 May 2014 17:57:32 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=829866 Poor Suzuki. Even as it tries to make a graceful exit from the U.S. market, they get mired in the latest round of General Motors recalls. Suzuki will be recalling 184,244 GM-made cars, sold as the Suzuki Forenza and Reno, but originating as the GM-made Daewoo Lacetti. Automotive News reports that the recall is related […]

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Click here to view the embedded video.

Poor Suzuki. Even as it tries to make a graceful exit from the U.S. market, they get mired in the latest round of General Motors recalls.

Suzuki will be recalling 184,244 GM-made cars, sold as the Suzuki Forenza and Reno, but originating as the GM-made Daewoo Lacetti. Automotive News reports that the recall is related to a faulty part in the daytime running lights that could overheat and catch fire.

Suzuki’s U.S. auto operations filed for bankruptcy in late 2012, with the plan approved in early 2013.

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Was The Government’s Divestment of GM Stock Insider Trading? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/was-the-governments-divestment-of-gm-stock-insider-trading/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/was-the-governments-divestment-of-gm-stock-insider-trading/#comments Fri, 23 May 2014 14:43:01 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=829450 Back in 2004, perfectionist homemaker and well known TV personality Martha Stewart was charged with insider trading. As presented, the facts in the case were simple. Martha owned stock in a medical research company called ImClone and, like a lot of people who invest in tech firms, she was hoping for a big payout when […]

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Department of the Treasury

Back in 2004, perfectionist homemaker and well known TV personality Martha Stewart was charged with insider trading. As presented, the facts in the case were simple. Martha owned stock in a medical research company called ImClone and, like a lot of people who invest in tech firms, she was hoping for a big payout when their product, a promising new cancer treatment, went on the market. Unfortunately, the FDA chose not to approve the drug and the value of the stock looked set to take a beating once the decision was announced. According to the charges initially brought against her, Martha and many of the company’s top executives learned of the FDA’s decision though their inside connections the day before it was publicly announced and were able to sell their shares before they crashed. That’s against the law and many of the people caught up in the scandal, including Martha who was convicted on the charge of making false claims to a federal investigator, ended up going to jail.

The above case is a useful example because it offers a clear cause-and-effect pattern and plays out along such a short timeline. Despite Martha’s protestations that she was innocent, the dots here appear to be easily connected. Most insider trading cases, however, require a little more imagination. The connections aren’t always so clear cut and sometimes the cases play out over a period of years. Take, for example, the US Government’s recent divestment of its massive amount of GM stock and the subsequent recall debacle that now threatens to drive that company’s stock prices through the floor. Coincidence? Some people think not.

Last December, the US Government sold its remaining shares in General Motors and ended a controversial bailout program that ultimately cost the American taxpayer something on the order $10 billion. At the time, the move puzzled many investment experts who argued that the government could have lessened its losses by simply holding onto the stock, which was trending upward at the time, and selling when its value was higher. It makes sense, right? The USG bought high and then sold low, even a novice investor like me knows that’s the opposite of what you’re supposed to do, so why not simply wait?

Recalled GM ignition switch

The move that looked so stupid then looks like genius today. In February of this year, just a couple months after the sale, GM announced the recall of 1.4 million cars for faulty ignition switches. In the months since, more GM vehicles have been recalled for other problems and, if you have been following the reports here on TTAC, you know that that the number of vehicles involved now exceeds GM’s total sales for the past 5 years! The question is did the government have inside knowledge that this was on the way? Well, evidence is emerging that GM had data going back to at least 2007 that the ignition switches were failing to function properly and the government’s own safety watchdog, the National Highway Traffic Safety Institute (NHTSA) shows the company was actively investigating the problem during the 2009 bailout. At some level, then, the government did know.

Whether or not the timing of the stock sale rises to the level of insider trading, however, remains to be seen. The US Government is bigger and more complex than most of us will ever know and the individual agencies don’t always communicate with one another with the efficiency we might expect. The NHTSA has an entirely different focus than the Treasury Department and the chances of their reports coming across the desk of the person charged with maintaining that portfolio are extremely small. Still, the appearance of malfeasance is enough to send the tin foil hat wearers into a frenzy and damage the public’s confidence in the markets. The matter needs to be looked into.

GM RenCen

Thomas Kreutzer currently lives in Buffalo, New York with his wife and three children but has spent most of his adult life overseas. He has lived in Japan for 9 years, Jamaica for 2 and spent almost 5 years as a US Merchant Mariner serving primarily in the Pacific. A long time auto and motorcycle enthusiast he has pursued his hobbies whenever possible. He also enjoys writing and public speaking where, according to his wife, his favorite subject is himself.

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Ask The Best And Brightest: How Do You Handle Recall And Service Bulletins? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/ask-the-best-and-brightest-how-do-you-recall-handling-service-bulletins/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/ask-the-best-and-brightest-how-do-you-recall-handling-service-bulletins/#comments Mon, 21 Apr 2014 15:53:54 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=806346 Since arriving at TTAC, I have been continually challenged and impressed by the B&B. The knowledge, wisdom, and rather civil discourse that arrives in response to the so-called journalism I produce is awe inspiring, often. Thank you, B&B. I’ve also been tasked with handling the GM recall story, given my technical background and my familiarity […]

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Since arriving at TTAC, I have been continually challenged and impressed by the B&B. The knowledge, wisdom, and rather civil discourse that arrives in response to the so-called journalism I produce is awe inspiring, often. Thank you, B&B. I’ve also been tasked with handling the GM recall story, given my technical background and my familiarity with GM’s processes at the dealer level – but today, I want to turn the floor over to you.

A recent New York Times article, raised the notion of GM’s seemingly nonchalant responses to quality issues with their vehicles. It’s been my goal in covering this matter to be as objective possible and present as many primary sources as possible. Getting carried away with a story like this is easy, and in my opinion, the NYT does just that. There’s little to no context for the reader, and most people are unfamiliar with recall processes for any OEM, let alone GM.

The Times analysis of service bulletins was limited to General Motors. 

 

The article is centered around the letter from the NHTSA’s Frank Borris discussing GM’s responses to various safety recalls over recent years, a letter that apparently that came at GM executive Michael Robinson like a bolt out of the blue. Excluding the Cobalt ignition debacle, was GM truly surprised, rolling with the status quo until caught? Or are they particularly unique in their behavior?

Can we sit and point fingers at GM solely, or is this a common occurrence in daily operations at other manufacturers? My dealer experience ends with GM. Where does your experience begin? Work at a dealership with another automaker? Maybe you work in a similar engineering field, and have fought the wrath of bean counters? How do the other OEMs (Toyota, Ford, Honda…) mitigate product problems in practice, especially in the face of safety vs. costs? And how do they respond to field reports about product flaws?

Anonymous stories and tips can be emailed to Editors at ttac dot com

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Too Big To Fail, Too Confused To Operate: Analysis Of 619 Pages Of Cobalt Engineering Documents [w/ Full Text] http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/too-big-to-fail-too-confused-to-operate-analysis-of-619-pages-of-cobalt-engineering-documents-w-full-text/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/too-big-to-fail-too-confused-to-operate-analysis-of-619-pages-of-cobalt-engineering-documents-w-full-text/#comments Thu, 17 Apr 2014 14:00:20 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=799138   The House Energy & Commerce Committee recently released the documents GM submitted for investigation, which includes emails and internal reports documenting GM’s response to reports of their early Chevrolet Cobalt and Saturn Ion models inadvertently shutting the car “off” while driving due to an ignition cylinder that was, simply, too easy to turn out […]

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The House Energy & Commerce Committee recently released the documents GM submitted for investigation, which includes emails and internal reports documenting GM’s response to reports of their early Chevrolet Cobalt and Saturn Ion models inadvertently shutting the car “off” while driving due to an ignition cylinder that was, simply, too easy to turn out of the “run” position; and in the case of several accidents, allowed the ignition cylinder to rotate out of the run condition before or during accidents, causing the airbags to not deploy when required.

The documents, totaling 619 pages (some with repeat info), reveal just how deep seated “old GM” was in their cost cutting ways (Driving down supplier costs to the point of sacrificing quality, admittedly poorly designed ignition cylinder, and removing internal quality control on the parts), and just how blind sided “new GM” was during their investigations. It also confirms how suspended engineers Ray DeGiorgio and Gary Altman were involved in the ignition switch response, and fuzzy problem solving. Full text and an analysis of key documents below.

We already know the basics of how this happened, but it’s still surprising just how ingrained GM was in putting the issue aside. The key issues are these:

  • GM became aware of the ignition issue in the 2001 preproduction Saturn Ion and the 2005 preproduction Chevrolet Cobalt.
  • Gary Altman initiated the report that lead to the insert, and Ray DeGiorgio consulted on the fix and argued against ignition switch changes.
  • Many different options were proposed, including suggestions from Delphi.
  • Cost played a major role in the decision to not recall the ignition switch early on.
  • The later key insert was the result, and was seen not as a fix, but as a “containment.”
  • GM also had very little oversight on parts from Delphi, only relying on Delphi’s incomplete testing.
  • GM’s engineers knowingly put the cars to market with a defective ignition switch.
  • This lead to ISB #05-02-35-007.
  • In 2006, DeGiorgio eventually signed off on design changes for Delphi, that included a stronger spring and plunger for the detent mechanism in the ignition cylinder, which provides a physical resistance between the different key positions.
  • When implemented in 2007, the new ignition cylinders cost less than a dollar per unit more than the original design; $400,000 to retool the production lines. These are the same changes that were deemed “not an acceptable business case” in 2005
  • As company, however, no one knew who signed off on the change until the Melton family lawsuit.
  • In court, DeGiorgio testified that he was unaware of changes to the ignition cylinder that would have effected the detents, only mentioning the key change..
  • Later investigations showed that the Cobalt had a substantial number of airbag warranty claims.
  • Higher level GM representatives broadsided by NHTSA’s investigations and disapproval of their slow reaction to other recent recalls.

First up, Gary Altman’s and Ray Giorgio’s role in the ignition cylinder issue is a problem. In court, Altman claimed that he did not feel that the Melton’s car was “unsafe.” This coming after submitting the initial mechanical complaint about the ignition falling out of run, in 2004:

docs.house.gov meetings IF IF02 20140401 102033 HHRG-113-IF02-20140401-SD017.pdf
During the investigation, several different approaches to modify the ignition cylinder were brought up to DeGiorgio. All of which were quickly dismissed by DeGiorgio, because the switch was already “very fragile,”

docs.house.gov meetings IF IF02 20140401 102033 HHRG-113-IF02-20140401-SD017.pdf (1)
Later on, all fixes were dropped, as it wasn’t deemed necessary. With a tight deadline and budget, the engineers could not justify any of the fixes at the time, as it wasn’t an “acceptable business case.”

docs.house.gov meetings IF IF02 20140401 102033 HHRG-113-IF02-20140401-SD017.pdf (2) docs.house.gov meetings IF IF02 20140401 102033 HHRG-113-IF02-20140401-SD017.pdf (3) docs.house.gov meetings IF IF02 20140401 102033 HHRG-113-IF02-20140401-SD017.pdf (4)

In 2006, DeGiorgio finally signed off on a design change for Delphi. The design change included  a stronger spring and longer detent plunger to increase the force needed to switch the key between different positions, along with an unrelated electrical upgrade. In an unexplained move, DeGiorgio did not assign a new part number to the improved switch design. The design change added 90 cents to the parts cost, and about $400,000 in tooling costs.

 

cobalt report 3
docs.house.gov meetings IF IF02 20140401 102033 HHRG-113-IF02-20140401-SD047.pdf (1)

But, with this large of a role in the decision to delay the redesigned ignition switch, DeGiorgio claimed that he was not aware of any mechanical changes to the switches during his testimony in the Melton family suit against GM:

docs.house.gov meetings IF IF02 20140401 102033 HHRG-113-IF02-20140401-SD056.pdf
Though, he did sign off on the changes, and worked with Delphi to test batches of ignition cylinders that contained an upgraded PCB (Printed Circuit Board), and detent plunger:

cobalt report 14

democrats.energycommerce.house.gov sites default files documents GM-Commodity-Validation-Sign-Off-2006-4-26.pdf

 

Curiously enough, though, is that GM had very little oversight on Delphi’s quality control, and Delphi did not check the rotational torque needed to turn past the switches detents. GM simply accepted Delphi’s parts and trusted their QC. But with rumored tensions between GM and Delphi, it’s said that cost cutting measures might be to blame as GM forced Delphi to push prices down, sacrificing parts quality. If this were true, GM’s choice to outsource QC to the supplier left them in the dark for too long, preventing them from seeing the immediate effects of their problems with Delphi:

cobalt report 4cobalt report 18

While this was going on, GM released the key insert as a “containment solution;” it would be the minimum needed to alleviate the problem for effected customers. This was chosen over two other modifications to the ignition cylinder, which were seen as a “partial solution” in the case of adding an additional detent mechanism to add more resistance to rotating the key out of “run,” and a “sure solution” involving moving the ignition switch higher up on the column, using a gear drive system to reach the rotary switch responsible for selecting which electrical circuit to run on. The added gearing would also increase rotational torque, the design stated.
cobalt report 11
cobalt report 12cobalt report 13
In 2007, the NHTSA began to probe into the surprising number of airbag-related complaints, despite “GM’s indications that they see no specific pattern.”
cobalt report 15

The issue was set aside, for the most part, until GM was informed by the Melton suit that there was a possible design change in the switch, based on an investigation into junkyard-found switches from the effected models. The testing showed that there was a noticeable change in detent torque, but no documentation from GM to show the changes. The GM engineers and representatives in the case were caught off guard by this design change, and began an internal investigation. This investigation lead GM engineer Brian Stouffer to find the documents that showed DeGiorgio signing off on design changes with no part number change.

cobalt report 5cobalt report 16
Finally, the most impressive point of this story comes from GM’s reactions to the NHTSA’s investigations. The NHTSA emailed GM asking for clarification on several other recalls, documenting GM’s reactions to other product issues with a disdain for GM’s penchant for doing the least amout possible to avoid full recalls; ie: regional recalls for parts failures in the rust-belt states. Saying that some were broadsided by this information would be an understatement:

cobalt report 19[…]
cobalt report 19

The response by Mike Robinson, VP for environment, energy and safety policy, sums up GM’s perception and confusion over their responses to the Cobalt issue, and several other poor recall responses in the past. “This note from NHTsA, both the content and tone, comes like a bolt out of the blue,” he states, “We worked way too hard to earn a reputation as the best and we are not going to let this slide.”

cobalt report 19
To summarize, GM is its own worst enemy. They responded poorly to incredibly early reports, dismissing the issue too quickly as a casual problem. With reports going back to 2001, during the Saturn Ion development, there is no reason why the switch should have come unmodified to the Cobalt development; never mind the dismissal of the problem before the car was produced. Ray DeGiorgio’s role in this problem is larger than he initially lead on in the Melton case, though his motive in this discrepancy is unknown at this time.

Full text to all 619 pages can be find here.

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Editorial: Get Ready For Massive Recalls Driven By Modular Platforms http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/editorial-get-ready-for-massive-recalls-driven-by-modular-platforms/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/editorial-get-ready-for-massive-recalls-driven-by-modular-platforms/#comments Wed, 09 Apr 2014 17:01:44 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=791697 Today’s recall announcement by Toyota estimated to span at least 6.4 million vehicles, serves as a nice distraction from the ongoing recall occurring at cross-town rival General Motors. The Best & Brightest are free to squabble about which faceless corporate entity with zero regard for their individual well-being is the superior one. The rest of […]

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mqb6

Today’s recall announcement by Toyota estimated to span at least 6.4 million vehicles, serves as a nice distraction from the ongoing recall occurring at cross-town rival General Motors. The Best & Brightest are free to squabble about which faceless corporate entity with zero regard for their individual well-being is the superior one. The rest of us have bigger fish to fry.

At 6.4 million vehicles, this Toyota recall is massive. It won’t be the last one. In fact, I think that ten years from now, this will be a low number.

The big trend in the auto industry today is modular platforms, which allow an enormous range of vehicles to share components. Volkswagen’s MQB architecture is an oft-cited example of this, largely because it takes a holistic approach to modularity. Much like Lego bricks, different “modules” can be assembled to create different vehicles. MQB is capable of spawning everything from a B-segment Volkswagen Polo to a D-segment Volkswagen Passat to an Audi TT sports car to a Volkswagen Touran minivan. Only a small number of “hard points” like the dimension from the center line of the front wheel to the pedal box, or the engine mounts, are fixed.

Within these modules are a high level of common parts, designed to be used across the entire range of MQB vehicles. This can include everything from whole powertrains to braking systems to smaller components that could be shared across a range of small to mid-size vehicles – which is, in theory, a truly vast quantity. Other commentators have expressed worries that MQB will lead to components being mismatched to their application. An A/C system engineered for a Passat might be overkill on a Polo (or vice versa) from a utility or financial standpoint.

From a purchasing standpoint, MQB will allow Volkswagen to buy lots and lots of widgets, receiving a significant discount on the cost per widget. This will equal significant savings for VW (though just how much they’ll save seems to depend on who you ask) while leading to shorter assembly times and more standardized production of vehicles. In the event that demand for a given model changes, a factory could scale back production of a slower selling model to help meet demand for the more popular one. This gives Volkswagen unprecedented flexibility in the way that cars can be designed, engineered and manufactured.

It also leaves Volkswagen in a very vulnerable position. What happens if they get a bad batch of widgets from a supplier, or the widget in question was poorly engineered? What if a manufacturing process was poorly designed, and the widgets aren’t installed properly? With so many vehicles assembled with the same faulty part or process, the impact could be enormous: millions of vehicles requiring repair, a black eye for Volkswagen and, heaven forbid, human lives negatively impacted.

This kind of exposure to potential quality defects and mass recalls was dubbed a “Cascading Failure” in a prior article, but many readers with engineering backgrounds objected. Instead, we can call it a “platform level failure”, which is the key difference between the scenario outlined above, and the Toyota recall, which affects everything from the Yaris subcompact to the Land Cruiser SUV.

But in a future where every car maker will have to adopt some kind of modular architecture, the likelihood of these events occurring is almost certain. And those who have invested most in common vehicle architectures are at the greatest risk.

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General Motors Puts Stop-Sale & Recall On Chevrolet Cruze Due To Axle Failure [W/ Full Text] http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/general-motors-puts-stop-sale-recall-on-chevrolet-cruze-due-to-axle-failure-w-full-text/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/general-motors-puts-stop-sale-recall-on-chevrolet-cruze-due-to-axle-failure-w-full-text/#comments Tue, 01 Apr 2014 20:24:27 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=785465 Last weekend, Chevrolet issued a stop-sale 2013-2014 Chevrolet Cruze equipped with the 1.4L turbo-four with no initial reason for the action. A stop-sale is an order given by a manufacturer to dealers to cease the sales of a specific model of car to repair a problem. It can be anything from minor quality issues, up […]

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Last weekend, Chevrolet issued a stop-sale 2013-2014 Chevrolet Cruze equipped with the 1.4L turbo-four with no initial reason for the action. A stop-sale is an order given by a manufacturer to dealers to cease the sales of a specific model of car to repair a problem. It can be anything from minor quality issues, up to major mechanical maladies. While not an uncommon event, this comes on the heels of a tidal wave of expanded recalls and investigations centered around the maligned Delta-Platform cars. TTAC was able to obtain a copy of the stop-sale notice for the B&B, which pinpoints the failure to the front-passenger half-shaft not meeting GM specifications, with the half-shafts possibly fracturing as the result. 

It is notable that this is the second time the Cruze was recalled for this exact issue last September. In GM’s letter to the NHTSA on September 23, 2013, GM noted the response time from the initial reports in July of 2013 to the initial stop-sale and recall in September of 2013 after receiving field report of the half-shafts breaking. GM found that poor quality control from the parts supplier lead to micro fractures inside the shaft. It’s unknown at this time why GM has again initiated this recall, but GM plans to release a full chronology in two weeks.

Below is a full text copy of the current stop-sale notice to dealers, and a partial copy of the recall letter which details the failure; the portion of the document left it is merely repair instructions for the technician.

GM CUSTOMER CARE AND AFTERSALES
DCS3173
URGENT – DISTRIBUTE IMMEDIATELY

Date: March 28, 2014

Subject: 14079 – Safety Recall — Stop Delivery Until Safety Recall Has Been Performed On Vehicle
Front Axle Right Half Shaft Fracture

To: All Chevrolet Dealers

Attention: General Manager, Service Advisor, Service Manager, Parts and Service Director, Parts Manager, New Vehicle Sales Manager

General Motors is announcing Safety Recall 14079 today. Please see the attached bulletin for details.

Vehicles involved in this recall were placed on stop delivery March 27, 2014. Once the service procedure contained in the bulletin has been performed on the vehicle, the vehicle is released from stop delivery and the vehicle can be delivered to the customer.

Customer Letter Mailing
The customer letter mailing date has not yet been determined.

Global Connect (GWM)
The “Investigate Vehicle History” (IVH) screen will be updated week of March 24, 2014. A list of involved vehicles in dealer inventory is attached to this message. Please hold all warranty transactions until the VIN appears in IVH.

Campaign Initiation Detail Report (CIDR)
The CIDR will be available in the near future.

END OF MESSAGE
GM CUSTOMER CARE AND AFTERSALES

And, finally, the recall report. Full text with photos detailing how to diagnose whether or not your Cruze has the defective half-shaft is here.

PRODUCT SAFETY RECALL

SUBJECT: Front Axle Right Half Shaft Fracture

MODELS: 2013-2014 Chevrolet Cruze Equipped with 1.4L Turbo Engine (LUV)

CONDITION

General Motors has decided that a defect which relates to motor vehicle safety exists in some 2013-2014 model year Chevrolet Cruze vehicles, equipped with a 1.4L turbo engine (LUV). The interconnecting tubular bar on the front right axle half shaft on some of these vehicles may not meet GM specification and could fracture and separate. If this occurs while driving the vehicle, steering and braking control would be maintained; however, the vehicle would lose power to the wheels and would coast to a stop. If a vehicle with a fractured half shaft is parked on an incline without the parking brake applied, the vehicle could move unexpectedly, resulting in a possible crash or injury to pedestrians.

CORRECTION

Dealers are to inspect and, if necessary, replace the half shaft.

[…]

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