Category: Safety

By on March 1, 2022

After two weeks of smoldering in the Atlantic Ocean, a cargo ship loaded with several thousand German automobiles has sunk. Packed with over 4,000 vehicles from Volkswagen Group, the Felicity Ace (pictured) originally gained notoriety for being a successful fire rescue mission conducted in open waters. But it was later revealed that a large number of the cars onboard were higher-end products from brands like Audi, Porsche, Bentley, and Lamborghini — making the salvage operation that followed likewise engaging.

Due to the immense size of the Felicity Ace, it would need to be towed several hundred nautical miles back toward Portugal so it could be serviced. Crews reportedly arrived on February 25th to evaluate the ship and prepare it for the trip back East. However, the cargo vessel began listing until it started to fall onto its starboard side and is now deemed unsalvageable. It’s assumed that the craft will be sinking near its current position, roughly 220 nautical miles from off the Portuguese Azores, taking its vehicular cargo along for the ride.  Read More >

By on February 1, 2022

Despite the automotive industry collectively promising to commence deliveries of self-driving cars in 2019, autonomous vehicles have remained test platforms for technologies that don’t yet seem ready for mass consumption. Public perception of the concept has also endured a few setbacks after several fatalities involving partially autonomous vehicles received national media attention. Today, the relevant technologies have failed to mature as swiftly as indicated and there are a whole host of legal ramifications to contend with.

Selling an automobile that’s marketed as being able to drive itself (even partially) are exposing automakers to a whole new demographic of lawsuits, so they’re desperate to install failsafe measures that places the onus of responsibility back onto the driver. Their current favorite is driver-monitoring cameras, which the American Automobile Association (AAA) likewise believes are probably the best solution. The outlet recently shared the results of a study attempting to determine which driver-engagement systems worked best and decided that in-cabin cameras were the leading choice in a batch of bad options.  Read More >

By on January 3, 2022

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has confirmed that Tesla will be recalling 356,309 examples of the Model 3 presumed to be suffering from a defect that can cause the rearview camera to malfunction. Another 119,009 Model S sedans will also be recalled over a problem pertaining to the frontal hood latch.  Read More >

By on December 22, 2021

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has launched a formal investigation into 580,000 Tesla vehicles sold since 2017 that allowed customers to play video games inside the vehicle. The company has allowed users to play a variety of games while vehicles are in park, some of which allowed drivers to use the steering wheels and pedals as part of the controls, for quite some time. But an over-the-air software update permitted a few of them to be launched while the car was in motion by the passenger in the summer of 2021. Called “Passenger Play,” the service was limited to games that only used touchscreen controls.

It’s since been axed, however, regulators have taken an interest following some manufactured outrage. The NHTSA has faulted the feature as part of the ongoing distracted-driving problem in an attempt to link it to its crusade against Autopilot. The agency has launched a preliminary investigation into 580,000 Tesla Model 3, S, X, and Y vehicles to determine if they’re attention-sucking deathtraps.  Read More >

By on September 1, 2021

The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has identified another traffic incident pertaining to Tesla’s driver assistance features and emergency vehicles, making the current tally twelve. These wrecks have been a matter of focus for the agency ever since it opened a probe to determine whether or not Autopilot can handle hiccups in the road caused by scenes where flares, cones, disabled automobiles, and first responders coalesce.

Though concerns remain that Tesla is being singled out unjustly when there’s little evidence to suggest that other manufacturers are providing more capable systems. Tesla’s issues appear to be heavily influenced by irresponsible marketing that makes it seem as though its vehicles are self-driving when no manufacturer can make that claim. U.S. regulators now want to place more restrictions on vehicles boasting autonomous features and, thus far, Tesla has been behind on those trends. But it’s hard to support claims that they make vehicles safer when none seem as effective as they should be.  Read More >

By on August 25, 2021

The Takata airbag recall was the largest in the automotive industry. So large, in fact, that we don’t actually know how many defective units are still floating around out there.

With the recall encompassing over 100 million airbag inflators sold around the world with the potential to kill occupants with shrapnel, keeping tabs was always going to be difficult. But Blomberg is reporting that it’s effectively impossible to account for all of them, noting that there are parts of the planet where the affected customers weren’t ever notified. We still haven’t even managed to fix all the units we knew were shipped in the United States, with at least 14 million potentially deadly inflators still presumed to be on the road as of July.  Read More >

By on August 20, 2021

Stellantis is recalling 212,373 Ram vehicles over issues relating to the side-mounted airbag inflators. Relevant safety reports were filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration earlier in the month and describe circumstances somewhat similar to the nightmare that preceded the Takata airbag recall. Inflator components exposed to moisture may have a tendency to lose components or outright rupture, potentially spraying the interior with metal fragments.

The Ram inflators are believed to have been exposed to unnecessary levels of moisture during the manufacturing process, resulting in a weakening of the materials under pressure. FCA US (which is the name used on the NHTSA report, rather than the global Stellantis) started an investigation in December of 2020 after it had determined some pickups had been installed with side-curtain airbags with defective inflators. The company traced the issue all the way back to the 2015 model year.  Read More >

By on August 17, 2021

The Chevrolet Bolt has become the focus of negative attention following some fire incidents that were believed to be related to battery components. After two recalls, General Motors has decided to replace the battery modules of every model that could be impacted — rather than focusing on units with proven defects.

While it’s undoubtedly going to cost the company a fortune, this is probably the correct move. The implications of negative publicity stemming from repeat vehicle fires have a tendency to linger and be blown up to larger-than-life proportions. This is especially true if an automaker rushed that vehicle to market to better wrangle the segment. Just ask Ford about the Pinto if you’ve any doubts.   Read More >

By on July 30, 2021

For the last several nights it’s been impossible to turn on a screen and not encounter some besuited mouthpiece telling you that face coverings and social distancing will be the peak of fashion by this fall. In the real world, we’ve seen this mirrored by governments and businesses reinstituting COVID restrictions. General Motors even got out early and decided (with encouragement from the UAW) to bring back masking in Missouri.

Now it’s Ford’s turn.  Read More >

By on July 23, 2021

Chevrolet has issued a statement to owners of Bolt EVs that could be subject to surprise fires while charging, offering more tips on how to avoid burning down their homes while it preps another recall. General Motors and supplier LG Chem have identified “two rare manufacturing defects” that they believe are causing the fires and are suggesting avoid charging their vehicles in an extremely specific manner until after the secondary recall has been conducted.  Read More >

By on June 28, 2021

The Chinese Communist Party seems to have it out for Tesla. Following bans that prohibited the brand’s vehicles from parking themselves anywhere near a military base, China’s government has decided to recall over 285,000 Tesla automobiles sold in the country. We’ve also seen state-run media outlets begin branding the automaker as irresponsible and arrogant amid consumer protests some are concerned might have been staged for political reasons. Though it’s painfully hard to get inside the head of the CCP while you hope for concrete evidence of any of the above. Propagandizing and censorship have reached a level where just about everyone is having difficulties distinguishing up from down.

What is certain, however, is that Tesla’s regional volume has taken a noteworthy hit in 2021 despite sales more than doubling the previous year. While this may have nothing to do with the bad publicity and recall campaigns, we’re betting the latest example — which pertains to customers misusing Autopilot — won’t help matters.  Read More >

By on June 18, 2021

At the start of the year, the city of Chicago announced that it would be changing rules pertaining to traffic enforcement as part of Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s updated 2021 budget package. But the one that was causing the most concern among motorists was a provision to have speed cameras issue tickets to anybody traveling 6 miles an hour over the posted limit, rather than the previous cutoff of 10 MPH. While just a singular aspect of the city’s plan to resolve a $1.2-billion deficit, it turned out to be one of the most controversial items and appears to have resulted in a tenfold increase in fines.

According to local affiliate CBS Chicago, data from a public records request indicated that during the 36-day period before and after the change took effect on March 1st, citywide ticketing went up from 35,784 citations in the weeks before to a massive 398,233 in the proceeding weeks.  Read More >

By on June 17, 2021

It’s always nice to get a break from the endless stream of industry marketing materials about electrification, though this week’s impromptu theme still involves going green. Following news that General Motors is considering changing its drug testing policies to exclude marijuana, there has been heavy coverage of an Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) study claiming states that have legalized recreational use of cannabis are seeing more crashes.

But the framing seems wildly irresponsible as it fails to highlight the problem being heavily tied to individuals operating a vehicle under the influence of marijuana and alcohol combined. It’s more or less what the IIHS attempted to do in 2018 with help from the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI). Our guess is that the duo is seeking out fresh reasons for insurance companies to raise rates in regions that have legalized pot because even their own research complicates the issue.  Read More >

By on June 3, 2021

The problem with being in the sales business is the need to constantly outdo your rivals. Automakers know this better than just about anyone, which is why you see gimmicky features installed into vehicles that probably would have been just as good without them. But one never knows what’s going to catch on with consumers and you’ll never catch the big one if you don’t go fishing, so you’ll see patents filed on just about everything.

BMW has reportedly done just that with its new virtual mirror technology system that merges camera-based mirrors with olde-tyme projection technologies. The purpose appears to be something that replicates the experience of traditional side mirrors (which work fine) while adding some modern features that can only be accomplished using the newer stuff.  Read More >

By on June 1, 2021

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is downgrading the Tesla Model 3 and Y following the company’s decision to remove radar from its advanced driver-assistance suite. We wrote about it, noting that the change actually removed several features from the affected cars and introduced the activation of another creepy, driving-monitoring camera.

While the latter aspect warranted the most cursing from your author’s side of the laptop, it’s the former that’s seeing the lion’s share of debate among groups advocating for vehicular safety. Everyone wants to blame Tesla’s overreliance on cameras as the thing contributing to high-profile crashes when there’s nary a vehicle on this planet that’s truly capable of driving itself. But that hasn’t stopped the NHTSA from slapping affected Tesla models into their own category, noting that they lack several functions it deemed important for safety. It’s all relative, considering there are millions of vehicles on the road that don’t have any advanced driving aids to speak of and heaps of evidence that electronic nannies don’t always function as intended. But it’s earning Tesla bad publicity as it gets dinged by increasingly more safety groups. Read More >

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