By on July 1, 2020

German prosecutors have incorporated Continental into a probe aimed at determining whether Volkswagen Group cheated on emissions testing. While confessing to the crime in the United States years earlier is a fairly good indication of corporate guilt, Germany wants to make extra sure VW was in the wrong and has branched out its investigation to include suppliers that may have played a role.

On Wednesday, the automaker acknowledged it had been subjected to yet another probe after investigators arrived to comb through its offices. The same treatment was given to supplier Continental, which is suspected of having some sort of involvement in a scandal the automotive industry can’t quite seem to move on from.  (Read More…)

By on June 25, 2020

kia

Having both forward driving lights illuminated after dark is a key element of road safety; one most automakers nailed long ago, at least until their vehicles start really getting on in years. Even then, a new bulb should be all a driver ever needs to keep the path ahead well lit.

Not so for some Kia Sorento owners. Enough consumer complaints have rolled in to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that the federal agency has opened an investigation. (Read More…)

By on June 24, 2020

Over the weekend, NASCAR incurred what was assumed to be a racist incident after a member of outspoken Richard Petty Motorsports driver Bubba Wallace’s team claimed someone had hung a noose in Wallace’s garage. Earlier in the month, the diver released a new livery on his No. 43 Chevrolet promoting Black Lives Matter, saying he and his team stood in broad support of the organization. He also requested NASCAR ban the Confederate flag from all future events — getting his wish and causing a minor ruckus within the community.

The context helped frame the noose that appeared in his garage on Sunday as a racist action and drew massive support from every corner of the sport. Richard Petty came out to said he would stand with Wallace and practically everyone walked with him down Talladega’s pit lane in solidarity. NASCAR President Steve Phelps likewise expressed his backing for Wallace on Monday, saying whoever committed the hateful act would be barred from the sport for life.

This was followed by Northern District of Alabama U.S. Attorney Jay Town saying his office had launched an investigation along with the FBI and the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division. The wheels of justice were put swiftly into motion, but it turned out that the noose was just a door pull someone had set up in 2019.   (Read More…)

By on June 24, 2020

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said Tuesday it has launched an investigation into Tesla’s Model S. Frequent complaints have arisen of the vehicle’s media control unit going on the fritz and knocking out the vehicle’s touchscreen.

We’ve seen several outlets minimize the issue by suggesting gaps in Tesla’s Autopilot should be seen as more pressing. Apparently, many see potentially faulty touchscreens as small potatoes. But we can’t agree; not when they happen to operate the brunt of the car’s auxiliary functions, and we’ve heard reports of this very problem for years. If you need a refresher course, we covered the matter extensively in the fall of 2019. The gist is that the embedded Multi-Media Controller (eMMC) on MCUv1 units seem to be overworked. Constantly logging data is tough on the system, and this setup didn’t appear to be capable of handling the high load, resulting in flash-memory wear.  (Read More…)

By on May 20, 2020

Every time we think the United States’ fueling fracas had concluded, something new emerges to remind us that we’re utter morons. Despite the Trump administration finally wrapping up the fuel rollback of Obama-era emission standards on March 31st, Senator Tom Carper (D-DE) has sent another letter asking Environmental Protection Agency Inspector General Sean O’Donnell to look into the new rules.

Carper asked the inspector general last February to conduct an investigation into “potentially unlawful efforts and procedural problems” stemming from their implementation. His assertion is that the EPA was circumventing various procedural requirements and attempted to hide data that would have conflicted with some of the rollback’s claimed benefits.

Did it?
(Read More…)

By on January 27, 2020

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Ford Motor Co. has agreed to settle a class-action lawsuit with almost 2 million owners and former owners of Focus and Fiesta models equipped with the now infamous six-speed dual-clutch PowerShift transmission. Internally referenced as the DSP6, the unit was a known problem prior to installation. Last year’s scathing report in the Detroit Free Press showed its dark history in gory detail, indicating the automaker had painted itself into a corner and ignored warnings from both engineers and legal advisors not to use the DSP6.

Complaints of vehicles shuddering and stalling, bizarre delays between gear changes, and even full-blown failures to go into gear began streaming in — leaving Ford to pick up the pieces and attempt to downplay the failure as much as possible. Unfortunately, more engineers came forward to bash the transmission over its development and implementation. Johnny-on-the-spot for the topic, the Detroit Free Press recently reported that Ford agreed to settle — with one of the lawyers brokering the deal saying the payout could exceed $100 million.

We’ve also learned how much money Ford spent repurchasing defective vehicles through a voluntary arbitration program conducted during the legal appeal. Court documents state the company bought back 2,666 vehicles for around $47,500,000 between October 2017 and December 2019.  (Read More…)

By on January 21, 2020

Following confirmation from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) that it will look into a petition calling on the agency to formally investigate 500,000 Tesla vehicles over reports of unintended acceleration, the automaker took to the internet to defend itself.

On Monday, Tesla issued a blog post to say the allegations against it are wrong. It believes claims of unintended acceleration are erroneous, pushed by someone hoping to scoop up Tesla shares at a lower price so they can be swiftly flipped.

The short-seller defense is a popular one with CEO Elon Musk. He’s previously called short sellers “value destroyers,” repeatedly suggesting that the practice should be made illegal. But it’s also in his interest to keep Tesla’s stock ludicrously high, which it is. Despite being several times smaller than either General Motors or Ford, Tesla’s market worth has surpassed their combined value.  (Read More…)

By on January 21, 2020

Mitsubishi is under investigation by German prosecutors for the suspected use of illegal defeat devices on diesel engines. As usual, the probe was kicked off by a series of raids — practically a cliche at this point.

Germany has certainly ran with the concept after U.S. regulators faulted Volkswagen for using illegal defeat devices to cheat diesel emission testing procedures in 2015. The reality is that regulators are cracking down the world over since the scandal, with Deutschland taking extra precautions to ensure other domestic brands don’t shame themselves like VW did.

Investigators are looking at 1.6-liter and 2.2-liter 4-cylinder Euro 5 and Euro 6 diesel engines and asking individuals who own Mitsubishi models (built after 2014) with those units to contact the police.  (Read More…)

By on January 10, 2020

NTSBThe evidence keeps stacking up against Tesla. As the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration investigates crash after crash involving Tesla vehicles under the influence (or suspected influence) of Autopilot, when is enough too much? 

(Read More…)

By on December 17, 2019

gm

Maintaining a clear view of the road ahead through a vehicle’s windshield is a fundamental part of road safety, and things can go downhill fast if a vehicle’s wipers crap out at an inopportune time.

Since 2016, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has paid growing attention to the wipers on two GM models: the Chevrolet Equinox and GMC Terrain, both of which were recalled that year following a number of reported windshield wiper transmission failures. The recall covered the 2013 model year.

NHTSA also began looking into Equinoxes and Terrains from different models years, receiving numerous (read: hundreds) of complaints during the course of its investigation. Now, that probe has entered a new phase, signalling that a new recall might be on the way. (Read More…)

By on December 6, 2019

2017 Ford Focus Titanium Hatchback, Image: Ford

In July, we covered a scathing report that criticized Ford Motor Co’s usage of the DSP6 dual-clutch transmission found in the third-gen Focus and sixth-gen Fiesta. The hardware was surrounded by controversy, with company insiders highly critical of its implementation. Claims arose that the unit wasn’t performing as intended throughout its development, with corporate lawyers expressing serious doubts as to whether DTC technologies (which were relatively new at the time) were the automaker’s best choice.

Hindsight seems to have proven them right. The PowerShift DSP6 turned out to be a turd the company polished to the best of its ability and then put on sale, leading to more headaches. Officially, the manufacturer has said the vehicles were safe when introduced and have remained so. Still, Ford is well aware of the tranny’s issues; since the problems came to light, the automaker has extended warranties and encouraged service centers to repair their problematic transmissions.

While a kind gesture, some remain concerned that Ford appears to be sweeping the whole issue under the rug. Customers are angry, claiming the automaker should have never put the unit into production — a move that resulted in civil litigation. But that doesn’t appear to have ever been a real possibility. Those who tried to stop the DSP6 claim they were doomed to failure from the start.  (Read More…)

By on November 8, 2019

The Justice Department has issued civil subpoenas to the four major automakers’ that voluntary agreed to adopt a Californian compromise on vehicle emission requirements. The antitrust investigation seeks to determine whether or not BMW, Ford, Honda, and Volkswagen were in violation of federal competition laws by agreeing with each other to adhere to stricter emissions standards penned by California.

With the Trump administration working for years to roll back emissions standards, California has been doing everything in its power to maintain its ability to self-regulate and gain support for higher emission standards. Under the agreement with the Golden State, the companies promised to meet annual emission improvement targets of 3.7 percent and defer to the state’s authority to set its own emissions standards. (Read More…)

By on August 8, 2019

Tesla Model 3, Image: Tesla

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration took exception to Tesla’s suggestion that a person is less likely to suffer injury in its vehicles than those built any other manufacturer, documents reveal. Advocacy group PlainSite obtained the docs via a FOI request, shedding light on both the NHTSA’s concern re: Tesla’s safety claims, as well as subpoenas issued in the pursuit of information following several Tesla crashes.

Last October, the NHTSA fired off a crease and desist letter to Tesla after the automaker claimed the agency’s crash data showed its Model 3 surpassed the five-star ranking issued for the model. This was a misleading statement and improper use of data, the NHTSA said. Since that time, crashes involving Tesla vehicles have earned the company additional scrutiny from the road safety regulator. (Read More…)

By on July 11, 2019

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Making a mistake while trying to remedy an earlier one is a routine part of the human condition. We’re imperfect creatures and sometimes the easiest solution after a string of foulups is to just sweep something under the rug and hope nobody ever bothers to look there — even though they probably will. Incredibly, this logic can spread to an entire organization and with roughly the same effectiveness.

Earlier this week, Ford issued a safety recall on select Focuses manufactured within the last decade (1.5 million were recalled previously). But not before becoming the subject of a scathing report from the Detroit Free Press claiming the automaker knew the cars had bunk transmissions and did everything in its power to keep that under wraps in order to continue selling them.  (Read More…)

By on June 3, 2019

2016 Chevrolet Traverse

A half-decade after General Motors recalled 1,339,355 full-size crossovers due to a risk of seat belt failure, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has launched an investigation into the models.

Following reports sent in from owners, the federal agency is concerned that the 2014 recall did not fix the problem of detached front seat belt cables in 2009-2014 vehicles. (Read More…)

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