Tag: Safety

By on March 23, 2017

2016 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350, Image: Ford

Calling the blistering Shelby GT350 Mustang “track-ready” has led to unexpected consequences for Ford Motor Company. As of late yesterday, the automaker finds itself the subject of a class-action lawsuit.

Owners of 2016 models are turning up the heat on the Blue Oval after their vehicles’ transmissions and differentials overheated, forcing the cars into performance-sapping (but component-saving) “limp mode.” Certain GT350s — base and Tech Package variants, to be exact — came from the factory without transmission and differential coolers. While fast, the models created headaches for some owners. Many drivers suddenly found themselves stuck in limp mode mid-race, or on the road. (Read More…)

By on March 17, 2017

autonomous hardware

President Donald Trump received a tour of the American Center for Mobility this week. He did not, however, discuss the federal funding of the Michigan-based autonomous testing and development facility. Instead, the site was used as a location for the president to discuss regulatory policies and meet with automotive executives. Little was said on the subject of self-driving cars.

Still, automakers routinely remind us that autonomous vehicles are right around the corner. Ford says it can have autonomous cars rolling out by 2021, Audi and Nissan have said 2020, and Volkswagen has claimed it’ll be ready for self-driving models in 2019. Tesla — which has been pioneering the technology longer than most — has stated it has the hardware necessary in its current production vehicles and would have a bulletproof system installed in 2018, anticipating regulatory approval in 2021. However, suppliers are predicting much less optimistic timelines for self-driving cars — and the dates given vary wildly.  (Read More…)

By on March 10, 2017

car wreck crash destroyed

Automobile manufacturers recalled an all-time high of 53.2 million vehicles in the United States last year. The record-breaking number would not have been possible without the continued expansion of the recall of extremely dangerous Takata airbag inflators, according to the U.S. Transportation Department. Of course, it’s not just Takata Corp. that helped make 2016 the worst year on record, so be sure to save your applause.

Encouraged by the Obama administration, the Department of Transportation enacted a whopping 927 recall campaigns last year. That’s 7 percent above the previous high set in 2015. Fatal accidents jumped up 10.5 percent that year, followed by another 8 percent in 2016. (Read More…)

By on March 9, 2017

hacking

Automakers are hurriedly trying to implement connected vehicle technology and autonomous solutions to entice consumers, though there remains an underlying phobia among the general public that isn’t without a basis in reality. Cyber security is considered essential to the evolution of self-driving cars and plays an equally important role in the vehicles of today that offer enhanced connectivity.

Since modern automobiles rely so heavily on computers, there’s a plethora of elements that hackers could target. However, these hackers don’t necessarily need to operate outside of the law.

Embedded in a WikiLeaks analysis of documents allegedly acquired from the Central Intelligence Agency is an apparent interest in hacking automobiles. The most terrifying takeaway from those files? The claim that the CIA could theoretically use the systems in modern passenger vehicles to conduct “nearly undetectable assassinations.” (Read More…)

By on March 6, 2017

2017 Chrysler 300 Interior, Image: FCA

Once upon a time, a three-on-the-tree shifter or a floor-mounted unit with a lever the length of a ski pole was the norm for rowing through the gears. Then GM graced us with the automatic transmission, and the world soon grew used to a column-mounted shifter with a selector gauge mounted atop the steering shaft, smack dab in front of the driver’s eyes.

With a few exceptions caused by automakers trying to be sexy, this trend carried over into console-mounted shifters. Americans liked their beer cold, their country free, and their PRNDL choices straightforward and obvious.

Unfortunately, with mechanical linkages no longer required, a shifter can now be anything the automaker wants it to be, leading some companies — Fiat Chrysler Automobiles especially — into new and potentially deadly territory. With backlash against unorthodox shifters growing, it seems FCA has received the message. (Read More…)

By on March 4, 2017

2017 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe

Unexpected fires rank among the topmost fears of any automaker, and Mercedes-Benz is dealing with plenty of them.

After reports of 51 fires in late-model vehicles, 30 of them in the U.S., the German luxury automaker will recall roughly one million vehicles worldwide to prevent an electrical fault from causing even more. (Read More…)

By on March 2, 2017

tesla

We’ve covered a number of accidents involving Tesla’s nifty but not fully-autonomous Autopilot system already — some unfortunate, one fatal, but mostly just embarrassing.

This video, shot months after Tesla founder Elon Musk hammered home the technology’s limitations as investigations swirled, shows a crash that falls into the latter category. It also perfectly showcases the technological and human failings that have led to Autopilot-related crashes. (Read More…)

By on March 2, 2017

underride testing IIHS crash safety semi

The next time you’re driving behind a semitrailer take notice of that metal bumper hanging off the back. That’s the underride guard, and its job it to prevent your minuscule hatchback from hurdling beneath its hulking mass on the off chance that you have a collision.

Sadly, not all guards are created equal and some buckle during an accident — allowing the car’s passenger compartment to impact the rear of the trailer, frequently shearing off the part of the vehicle that your head occupies.

To further scare you out of tailgating trucks, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety released a 2011 report stating that the majority of those guards would fail and that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s minimum structural guidelines for underride bars was inadequate. While some manufacturers had begun installing stronger and safer guards, mainly to satisfy higher Canadian standards, the initial round of IIHS’ testing resulted in most underride guards failing in a 30-percent overlap test.  (Read More…)

By on March 1, 2017

gear selection joystick

Oddball gearboxes have been around forever. Cord’s 810 had a Wilson preselector back in the 1930s, Chrysler had the the mid-century pushbutton PowerFlite, and Oldsmobile was throwing Hurst Lighting Rods into its H/O cars in the 1980s. However, the overwhelming majority of automatic and manual transmissions have come with a strikingly familiar column or floor-mounted shifter. More recently, automakers have become a little more experimental.

Modern electronics allowed for an influx of paddle shifters, followed by an array of gear selectors that seem to serve aesthetics more than basic function. Knobs, buttons and joysticks are replacing traditional designs, occasionally at the expense of consumer safety. (Read More…)

By on February 27, 2017

2011 Ford Flex

It’s getting harder to ignore automotive safety recalls, but it’s easy for one to go unnoticed if it’s handed down after the owner buys a vehicle used.

While the circumstances surrounding the purchase of a vehicle involved in last weekend’s incident in Lake St. Clair aren’t clear, one thing is: the owner had no knowledge of a nearly two-year-old power steering recall. On the surface (so to speak), this seems to be the culprit behind the saga of the USS Ford Flex. (Read More…)

By on February 15, 2017

2016 Ford Explorer

After the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration launched an investigation into reports of a sulphurous exhaust smell in the cabins of 2011-2015 Ford Explorers, numerous complaints have rolled in concerning newer models.

Now, a California police officer claims the exhaust led him and his patrol vehicle on a date with a tree. (Read More…)

By on February 15, 2017

lamborghini-veneno-5

A recall report issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will have some owners of Aventador and Veneno models donning their flame retardant suits before hopping behind the wheel.

(Read More…)

By on February 11, 2017

2016 Nissan Frontier, Image: Nissan

European drivers have a problem. Motorists who own Nissan Navara pickups keep finding their trips cut short by an annoying noise: the sound of their trucks splitting in half.

So many Navaras — sold in North America as the Nissan Frontier — are snapping in two due to extreme frame rust that owners are pressuring governments to do something about. Check out these photos if you think it’s an isolated problem. (Read More…)

By on February 10, 2017

2015 Chrysler 300S

Update: It was brought to our attention by a spokesperson for FCA that iSeeCars.com’s study includes complaints about parts availability for recall campaigns, which in and of themselves are not necessarily safety issue complaints. These complaints can skew the per-model results in a big way. While iSeeCars works out the data, take the results below with a grain of salt as they will more than likely change. —Mark

Update 2: iSeeCars retabulated the data for the below-mentioned study without recall parts availability complaints and came up with the same top 10 results. Still, the fact remains, not all NHTSA complaints are verified; anyone can submit a complaint, regardless of whether they own said vehicle. In 2010, Toyota ran into problems verifying complaints from NHTSA’s database, and Tesla more recently had issues with one particularly problematic complainer … from Australia.

Safety complaints come in all forms, some of them frivolous, but minor annoyances usually fail to make the attention of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

When all safety complaints leveled against a model are weighed against the volume of vehicles sold, potential customers are left with a clearer picture of what headaches they might expect after signing on the dotted line. Meanwhile, automakers could realize they have a problem to fix.

In a recent study based on NHTSA complaints, one brand showed why quality control is key to keeping a loyal customer base, and how problems in the past can haunt a company for years. (Read More…)

By on February 3, 2017

Takata, the damned Japanese parts supplier with the exceptionally dangerous airbags, has lost the two top executives at its United States headquarters. According to their LinkedIn profiles, former North American President Kevin Kennedy and former Executive Vice President Robert Fisher are no longer with the company.

Meanwhile, BMW Group is recalling roughly 230,000 vehicles in the U.S. after discovering that some could have been outfitted with defective Takata Corp. airbag inflators during repairs.  (Read More…)

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