Tag: Safety

By on July 19, 2017

airbag

Takata, the parts supplier that furnished automakers with millions of extremely dangerous airbag inflators, was forced to issue another recall last week. Considering the hundreds of millions of units already recalled by the company, another 2.7 million is a drop in the bucket. But there’s a slight problem, as these newly recalled inflators are devices that have already been replaced.

In 2015, regulators specified Takata had until the end of 2019 to ensure its replacement airbag inflators were safe. With the “fixed” units now under scrutiny, automakers may be liable for the supplier’s wrongdoing as the millions upon millions of recalled inflators would need to be replaced for a second time. The current recall was prompted after the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found the drying agent added specifically to combat the moisture that degrades the ammonium nitrate compound wasn’t effective.

“Absent proof that the other desiccated inflators are safe, they will also be subject to recall,” the NHTSA said in a statement last week.  (Read More…)

By on July 15, 2017

2016 Dodge Journey Crossroad, Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

For an automaker desperate to improve its financial standing and attract a corporate suitor, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ vehicles have done a good job throwing a wrench into the company’s plans. While there’s nothing unusual about mass recalls these days — hello, Ford — corporate beancounters start sweating when the recall volume passes one million vehicles.

Also, no owner of a particular vehicle likes hearing their car’s driver’s side airbag could deploy at any moment. That’s just one of the issues facing FCA as it calls back 1.33 million vehicles from across the globe. (Read More…)

By on July 6, 2017

lincoln-continental-2017-iihs-crash-test

Like the rest of North America’s passenger car market, full-size sedan sales are waning. While luxury vehicles haven’t taken quite the same hit as more affordable models, big cars are not in fashion for 2017. However, some buyers still prefer the distinction and mass that only a full-size automobile can provide. They want a luxurious, low-slung ride and, if possible, an equally elegant crash experience.

While big cars tend to perform better in accidents than the majority of their petite contemporaries, very few vehicles do well in the small overlap crash test. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety recently took six of its favorite picks from the segment to evaluate side impact crashes, roof strength, protection from head restraints, moderate overlap front crashes, and the dreaded small overlap front impact.

“This group of large cars includes some with stellar ratings, but our small overlap front test remains a hurdle for some vehicles,” explained David Zuby, IIHS executive vice president and chief research officer.  (Read More…)

By on July 3, 2017

2015 Mazda3 Sport Touring, Image: Mazda

Previous generations of the Mazda 3, while popular, soon became known as much for corrosion as for zoom-zoom potential. Tears of iron oxide poured from rear wheel arches, taillights and center-mounted brake lamps, adding a somewhat tragic element to the models’ insanely happy visage.

Despite efforts to relegate rust issues to the past, Mazda just can’t seem to shake this automotive cancer. Less than a year ago, the automaker was forced to recall a slew of newer models — 2.2 million vehicles in total — after insufficient corrosion protection on hatch lift supports put owners in danger of a sudden head-whacking.

Of course, that was just a couple of months after Mazda recalled six models years of its CX-7 crossover over fears of suspension separation caused by, that’s right, rust.

This time around, it isn’t unprotected body panels or corrosion-prone suspension components causing Mazda grief. Still, rust remains the culprit behind the recently announced recall of more than 307,000 Mazda 3 and 6 vehicles, some 227,814 of which can be found in the United States. In this case, it’s rust that could cause your Mazda to stubbornly stay put, or perhaps take an unexpected, driverless journey. (Read More…)

By on June 29, 2017

2015 Ford Transit, Image: Ford Motor Company

There’s a problem underneath 2015-2017 Ford Transit models and, until the Blue Oval figures out a long-term fix, owners and operators of all Transit variants can expect a new driveshaft flexible coupling every 30,000 miles.

The automaker has announced a safety recall for 402,462 Transits sold in North America in order to prevent instances of driveshaft separation caused by a faulty flexible coupling. Ford seems to have become aware of a looming problem with each vehicle’s driveline, which apparently isn’t nearly as robust as the automaker had hoped. (Read More…)

By on June 26, 2017

2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid (left) and Chrysler Pacifica (right) - Image: FCA

Despite being lauded for its high level of content, smooth ride, and all-electric range, Chrysler’s plug-in hybrid minivan has hit a large roadblock. After voluntarily recalling all Pacifica Hybrids due to a safety defect that could see the minivan go dark at inopportune times, it seems the assembly line has ground to a halt in Windsor, Ontario.

A recall earlier this month saw Fiat Chrysler Automobiles call back 1,368 vehicles in the U.S. and 309 in Canada following complaints of loss of propulsion. The issue reportedly stems from defective inverter diodes. While the wonky electrified powertrain hasn’t resulted in any crashes or injuries, electrified cars that suddenly stop sending current to the motor aren’t something customers or the automaker can tolerate.

It’s a serious stumble for FCA’s green halo car. (Read More…)

By on June 23, 2017

cheech-chong high driving

Tragically, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has correlated the legalization of recreational marijuana use with more automobile accidents. Pot smoking in Colorado, Oregon and Washington seems to have resulted in collision frequencies roughly 3 percent higher than what would have been expected without legalization, according to a recent analysis from the Highway Loss Data Institute.

While this certainly isn’t an endorsement for de-legalizing recreational marijuana use, it is a reminder to stay off the roads if you’re having your head changed. Operating a motor vehicle while baked can get you into a sticky-icky situation, and nobody wants you having a green out on the expressway. That said, risks associated with driving under the influence of marijuana are much less cut-and-dried than alcohol.

This is largely due to how difficult it is for researchers to test marijuana. Despite its growing legalization, marijuana is classified by the Drug Enforcement Agency as a Schedule 1 drug, and subject to the highest level of restriction. Researchers need approval from their institution and apply for a license from the DEA before conducting a study. The government also has only so much pot to dole out for research purposes and gives the majority of it to the National Institute on Drug Abuse — fair and balanced testing of whether or not getting high while driving is safe is a little lower on NIDA’s list of priorities. In this instance, the same might be suggested of the IIHS.  (Read More…)

By on June 23, 2017

GM Assembly, Image: General Motors

General Motors’ safety practices are no longer under the watchful eye of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The three-year oversight period was part of a settlement GM reached with U.S. regulators back in May 2014, resulting from its failure to recall defective ignition switches attributed to 124 deaths and countless injuries.

While NHTSA’s role as General Motors’ personal watchdog ended last month, the automaker said it intends to continue meeting with the agency on a monthly basis to discuss potential defects. It also stated that the time spent with the regulator had been transformative, leading to a safer environment and more stringent quality control.  (Read More…)

By on June 22, 2017

2015 Honda Fit Overlap Crash Test IIHS. Image: IIHS

Chris writes:

Hi Sajeev,

I’m in the market for a new(er) car to replace my 2005 Nissan Quest. Safety is a very important precondition for my purchase since it will be used to transport my kids around our very congested city. I was thinking about leasing a 2017 model and narrowed my search down to a Chevy Equinox, Nissan Rogue, or Mitsubishi Outlander (all about $200/month for 36 months with $3K down). In crunching the numbers, I quickly realized that with the $10,200 or so that I’d spend on leasing a car that I’d eventually have to part ways with, I could easily buy a low mileage example that was between 3-6 years old. (Read More…)

By on June 21, 2017

Tesla AutoPilot cruise control

The National Transportation Safety Board has finally concluded its investigation into a May 2016 crash in Florida that resulted in the death of 40-year-old Joshua Brown. The ex-Navy SEAL’s Tesla Model S was operating in Autopilot mode when it collided with a semi trailer, raising speculation that the semi-autonomous driving feature was the reason for the accident.

While Tesla has repeatedly called the system a lane-keeping “assist feature” and suggested drivers always keep their hands on the wheel, consumer safety groups have urged the automaker to improve it.

An earlier investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration stated in January that the Autopilot software in Brown’s car did not have any safety defects. However, the NTSB stated that data acquired from the vehicle’s computer indicated that neither the vehicle nor its operator made any attempt to avoid the truck. It also specified that the vehicle had issued seven warnings for Brown to retake the wheel.

In the 37 minutes leading up to the fatal crash, the report said the car detected hands on the steering wheel for a total of 25 seconds.

(Read More…)

By on June 15, 2017

dodge caravan 2012, Image: Dodge

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is recalling 297,000 minivans in North America due to a wiring issue that can inadvertently trigger airbag deployments, according to a company statement issued Thursday.

The recall affects 2011-2012 model year Dodge Grand Caravans and has been linked to 13 minor injuries but no known accidents. Congratulations to all those who somehow managed to avoid wrecking their minivan as its steering wheel unexpectedly detonated inches away from their face, blasting their forearms with superheated nitrogen gas. (Read More…)

By on June 13, 2017

SUV Headlight, Public Domain

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has been systematically tearing apart every segment over inadequate headlights for the past year. In its most recent study, midsize SUVs took a beating, with only two models garnering a “good” rating for their illumination capabilities. The other 35 continued a trend of providing lackluster performance from a safety standpoint — especially non-luxury offerings.

Lousy headlights are something the IIHS seems hellbent on calling out, especially after years of avoiding any heavy scrutiny. This is the fourth segment the institute has evaluated since it began rating headlights in 2016. Its newly established headlight ratings have resulted in fewer cars being awarded an IIHS Top Safety Pick+, as headlights must rate in the “good” or “acceptable” range to even be considered. (Read More…)

By on June 9, 2017

Front Pedestrian Braking, a new active safety technology available on the 2016 Chevrolet Malibu and 2016 Cadillac CT6, is one of many safety features tested at General Motors' new Active Safety Test Area at the Milford Proving Ground in Milford, Michigan. Image: Jeffrey Sauger/General Motors

There was a time when seat belts were considered unnecessary, reserved as an optional extra for motorists who ventured out onto roadways in a state of white-knuckle fear. What pathetic bags of flesh, many thought, wrapping themselves in a polyester harness because they can’t handle themselves on the road — thinking it will save them from the reckoning of sheet metal and glass.

We know better now. Seat belts are proven life savers and advanced restraint systems are compulsory for both automakers and occupants. That will likely be the path of automatic emergency braking takes as well. Nissan announced Thursday it would make auto braking systems standard on a large portion of 2018 models sold in the United States. Toyota is doing the same. But the technology is not yet ubiquitous, nor has it acquired universal public approval. Many worry it could be too invasive or provide a false sense of invincibility, so it could be a while before AEB becomes expected equipment on all new models.  (Read More…)

By on June 8, 2017

2017 Nissan Rogue Sport, Image: Nissan

In the 1950s and 60s it was the horsepower war, followed soon after by the fuel economy battles of the 1970s and 80s. Today, the peace of mind that comes from available safety features competes with horsepower, environmental sensitivity and connectivity to win the hearts and minds of new car buyers.

Owning a vehicle that can head off a crash by itself is a tantalizing prospect for many drivers. With the industry already heading in that direction, Nissan has decided to add automatic emergency braking as standard equipment on eight of its 2018 models. (Read More…)

By on June 6, 2017

Jeep Liberty 2012, Image: Jeep

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is conducting a preliminary investigation regarding the 2012 Jeep Liberty’s airbag system after numerous complaints of a faulty control computer, leaving the safety measure non-functional in the event of an accident. That particular model year has already undergone a 2013 recall that required dealerships to re-flash the brand’s Totally Integrated Power Module for similar problems relating to non-deployment of active head restraints.

Owners have reported airbag warning lights remaining on while driving. Several were informed the occupant restraint controller (ORC) needed to be replaced, but their vehicle was not among the model years recalled. Since many drivers elected not to pay to have the system repaired, the NHTSA is concerned a recall may be necessary.  (Read More…)

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