NY Right-to-Repair Law Exempts Automakers
Governor Kathy Hochul has signed a right-to-repair bill into law for New York after it lingered within the state legislature for the better part of a year. However, many advocating for legal protections allowing consumers to fix and modify products have started criticizing changes made to the rule on behalf of large business entities hoping to see it neutered. While much of this pertains to the tech lobby representing companies like Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, and Google, sizable exemptions have been similarly carved out for automakers.
Honda Recalling 789,000 Vehicles Over Busted Hood Latch
Honda is recalling nearly 789,000 vehicles over a defect that could cause the hood to fly up while driving. While anyone wanting to reenact their favorite scene from 1995’s Tommy Boy is going to be thrilled, those less eager to follow Chris Farley into an early grave will probably want to get their car repaired ahead of any hilarious mishaps.
A report filed by the manufacturer with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) listed the affected models. They include the 2019 Honda Passport, 2016-2019 Honda Pilot, and 2017-2020 Honda Ridgeline. This impacts 788,931 vehicles globally, with the vast majority (725,000) being located in the United States.
NHTSA Upgrades Safety Probe Into 159,000 Tesla Vehicles
On Monday, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced it would be upgrading a probe into almost 159,000 Tesla Model S and Model X vehicles relating to touchscreen/memory issues that could result in a failure to comply with federal standards.
U.S. regulatory mandates stipulate that modern vehicles be required to have rear-camera displays to aid drivers traveling in reverse. The expanded investigation has tripled in size and now encompasses 2012-2018 model year Tesla Model S and 2016-2018 Model X vehicles, which may be eligible for a recall if the NHTSA sees fit.
Consumer Advocacy Group Demands Driving Data Be Controlled by Drivers
The Global Alliance for Vehicle Data Access (GAVDA) has issued a letter to automotive manufacturers around the world to request consumers be given direct access to the data generated by the vehicles they drive. While the group is comprised of organizations representing rental agencies, car sharing, independent vehicle repair shops that also want access to the information, it’s likewise backed by several consumer advocacy groups that worry customers and small businesses are being taken advantage of.
At the core of the letter is a refutation of claims made in a June 3rd memo the Alliance for Automotive Innovation (AAI) sent to Congress. That group is an assemblage of the world’s largest industry players with an aim to monetize driving data as quickly as possible. It just so happens that the duo are diametrically opposed to how the government should handle user information.
The Hero We Need: Consumer Access to Repair Coalition
When it comes to activism, it’s best to choose your battles carefully. Fortunately, there aren’t too many causes within the auto industry and most are easy to get behind.
Even though environmental activists sometimes find themselves at odds with reality, their hearts are usually the right place, and they’ve encouraged automakers to try new and interesting things with transportation. Safety advocates can likewise go overboard, but we wouldn’t have seen cars get dramatically safer (or heavier) since the 1970s if they hadn’t.
Our favorite has to be consumer advocacy, however. With the exception of the occasional predatory lawsuit looking to take advantage of a dumb corporate decision, there’s precious little to scoff about. It also tends to overlap with our pet peeves by decrying bad business practices within the industry. Case in point, the Consumer Access to Repair Coalition has recently asked Congress to rethink how vehicular data is shared — noting that automakers shouldn’t need real-time monitoring for repairs and that the technology likely poses an unnecessary security risk.
Toyota Owners in the Great White North Finally Get Their White Paint
A friend once had a ’94 Olds 88 with delaminating paint, souring the Olds ownership experience and causing him to pine for his recently departed ’86 model. The newer model’s hood and trunk lid looked like hell, but at least he wasn’t alone in his misery (there were a lot of peeling 1990s GM cars on the road at the time).
Toyota owners, on the other hand, are used to bragging about their vehicles’ longevity, dependability, and solid resale value, making issues like peeling paint a black eye in an otherwise wholesome relationship. It’s worth noting that they’re among the most loyal customers on the market.
These owners will be happy to hear the automaker plans to cover the cost of applying a whiter shade of pale to the exterior of their older Toyota models.
GM's Software Recall Just Causing More Brake Problems
General Motors is recalling around 128,500 vehicles in the United States over a previous fix that didn’t work as intended. The cars stem from a larger December callback that aimed, via a software flash, to mitigate braking problems on about 550,000 Chevrolet Silverado 1500, Cadillac CT6, and GMC Sierra 1500 models from 2019. GM says the solution created issues on about a third of them.
The problems are much the same as before. Affected vehicles may have serious braking issues and have their anti-lock braking system (ABS) and electronic stability control (ESC) fail. At least this time the computer will know enough to indicate a problem via the vehicle’s warning lights. In the previous recall, GM said the vehicles’ diagnostic system would not illuminate the instrument cluster to hint that something was amiss.
GM Recalls More Than 900,000 Vehicles Worldwide Over Brake and Battery Issues
General Motors is recalling more than 900,000 vehicles across the globe to addresses issues from separate campaigns — one of which poses an always-exciting fire risk. On Thursday, the automaker announced a callback of more than 400,00 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra 1500 trucks from the 2019-2020 model years. The manufacturer is concerned that pickups’ battery positive cable rings may have been installed with excessive glue, creating a stalling risk, or in some instances a potential fire hazard.
Another 550,000 Chevrolet Silverado 1500, Cadillac CT6, and GMC Sierra 1500 models from 2019 will also need to be recalled. A potential software issue related to the vehicles’ service brake system notifications could cause it to go haywire, negatively impacting their electronic stability control (ESC) and anti-lock braking (ABS) functions.
States Begin Dealing With Driving Data, Right-to-Repair Laws
In reading this website, you’ve no doubt come across paranoid rants about automotive companies vacuuming up your personal data as connected cars become the norm — often written by yours truly. Frequently bleak, they address a multitude of concerns we believe will only get worse before they can get better.
A large part of that has to do with automakers seeing the potential of leveraging customer data, like so many tech companies have before them. But elected (and unelected) officials also seem to have a loose grasp of the technology and its potential ramifications. When the Department of Transportation initially approved self-driving vehicles for public testing, the guidelines were loose and largely dependent upon self-reporting — few wanted to stand in the way of developing systems that might someday save lives.
However, manufacturers are now beginning to issue over-the-air updates, perpetual internet connectivity, gamification, and in-car marketplaces (complete with advertisements). While the new technology has opened up new doors for customer experiences and corporate revenue, it’s accelerating at a pace that’s difficult to track. As a result, lawmakers in Massachusetts and California are starting to get antsy. The former hopes to address how data will be handled in accordance with the state’s right-to-repair laws. The latter is more directly concerned with privacy.
Tesla Troubles: Models Bricking Over Flash Memory Problem
As the most-successful manufacturer of electric vehicles, Tesla is often at the forefront of new challenges relating to advanced automotive technologies. While the brunt of this has revolved around its software, mainly Autopilot, it’s also going to be among the first automakers to confront widespread battery recycling — something it’s already planning for at its Nevada Gigafactory.
Nothing last forever and, like every internal combustion vehicle, EVs have parts that go bad. Over the last six months, there’s been a growing number of reports of customers claiming their Teslas are bricking out like old phones. Displays are going dark, accessories are… inaccessible, and charging is often not an option. The culprit appears to be the embedded Multi-Media Controller (eMMC) on MCUv1 units, which logs data using flash memory.
Apparently, Tesla is overworking these systems (at least on some models) to a point where they can’t take it anymore. It’s basically the same thing that would happen if you filled and wiped a USB drive hundreds of times everyday. One morning you’d plug it in and find that it’s no longer functional due to being burnt out from overuse.
Consumer Reports: What Are Uber, Lyft Are Doing About Recalls?
As ride-hailing services utilize the personal vehicles of contractors, rather than a commercial fleet of their own, repairs and recalls have to be handled by individual drivers. While it shouldn’t be a revelation that some recalls fall through the cracks, Consumer Reports is concerned that the ratio of unaddressed safety issues are unbecoming of companies pushing multibillion-dollar IPOs.
“Uber and Lyft are letting down their customers and jeopardizing their trust,” suggested William Wallace, products policy manager for Consumer Reports. “Uber’s website says people can ‘ride with confidence,’ while Lyft promises ‘peace of mind,’ yet both companies fail to ensure that rideshare cars are free from safety defects that could put passengers at risk.”
Subaru Prepares For Largest Recall Yet
Expanding by leaps and bounds in the new millennium, Subaru effectively quadrupled its share of the U.S. market in the process. However, most of its production growth occurred in the last decade — leading to quality control problems unbefitting for a company that prides itself in sharing the same love as its customers.
Recalls are to be expected. No automaker can escape faulty components forever. But the frequency and scope of Subaru’s recalls (and scandals) over the past few years are especially bothersome, as they hint at an inability to catch mistakes, or perhaps a willingness to cut corners, as the company’s production volume targets the stratosphere. A new recall looming on the horizon will probably be the company’s largest to date.
QOTD: What's Your Greatest Zipped-up Repair?
Most of us reading — and writing for — this site have found themselves in possession of a complete and utter beater car at some point in their lives. Whether through necessity (young kid with no money) or choice (strange attractions to unreliable British machinery), roadside repairs often figure into our past in some form or another.
The most versatile of all roadside repair items? Zip ties, of course.
Parts Giant Pep Boys Has New Suitor in Carl Icahn
Billionaire investor Carl Icahn disclosed a 12-percent ownership stake in Pep Boys and said that Auto Plus, a competitor which he owns, should consider buying the retail parts giant, Bloomberg reported.
In October, Bridgestone offered to purchase Pep Boys’ 800 company-owned stores for $835 million to add to its portfolio of 2,200 stores including Tires Plus, Firestone Complete Auto Care, Hibdon Tires Plus and Wheel Works. The acquisition would create the largest chain of automotive service centers, yet many analysts say Bridgestone may be preparing Pep Boys for a potential sale already.
That tender offer from Bridgestone will expire Jan. 4, according to the report.
Where Have All The Clinton Era Cars Gone?
That moment you realize the oldest car in the parking lot is yours.
Yeah, I just had that moment.
The car in question is a 2001 Honda Accord EX. Four-door. Five-speed. A dodo bird of a used car stuck in today’s finance driven market. I walked around the parking lot you see above trying to find one vehicle, any vehicle, that’s as old as mine.
The blue ’05-ish Caravan on the bottom left came a bit close, but it didn’t happen. Instead, everything else seemed to be on the younger side of the curve, the overwhelming majority of vehicles sold new at a later time in history.