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Car Recalls: What You Should Know

Posted on Apr 18, 2014

Auto companies like General Motors and Toyota have been in the news recently for announcing recalls because of defective products. Experts from the auto industry have speculated that automakers were once allowed to communicate more loosely with regulators, but the globalization of product manufacturing has forced regulators to act more strictly.  Automakers have begun to use the same parts in multiple models of cars; if one part fails, it can cause recalls for millions of vehicles. As of April 2014, the total number of recalled vehicles amounts to almost 15 million. In 2013, only 22 million vehicles were recalled during the year.

Here is a list of auto corporations that have recalled vehicles thus far in 2014:

GM has recalled 2.5 million vehicles for an ignition switch error that can cause the switch to move and shut off powered features in the car.  GM has been in the news for waiting almost a decade before announcing this recall. An ongoing investigation may result in consequences for the car company.  GM has also recalled an additional 1.5 million vehicles because of separate power steering issues. GM claims it is making changes to its internal operations to avoid a controversy of this size from happening again.

Toyota has recalled (a majority of) 6.4 million vehicles for a wiring problem in the steering wheel that can cause the airbags to fail. A smaller portion of the 6.4 million vehicles have a seat issue that results in the driver’s chair moving at random. No accidents or deaths have been reported about these problems. Speculation says Toyota is trying to avoid the backlash that GM received. Toyota also received a hefty fine -- $1.2 billion, the most a car company has ever been hit with -- due to its questionable actions involving a recall that had vehicles inadvertently accelerating.

Nissan has recalled 1 million vehicles (544,000 of which are Altima sedans) because of an airbag malfunction. A sensor is triggered by weight in the passenger seat. If there is not enough weight on the seat, the airbag will not go off. A software defect could cause the airbag sensor to not work properly. The passenger airbag might not deploy when it should during an accident. Three accidents have occurred where the airbag did not deploy even though it should have, according to Nissan. The automaker stated that it was not aware of any injuries or fatalities because of the issue.  The list of cars being recalled include the 2013-2014 Pathfinder, Altima, Leaf and Sentra.

Honda is recalling 900,000 Odyssey minivans due to a flawed part that could cause fires. The “potential defect” in the fuel pump can cause deterioration and lead to cracks and leaks. Those perforations increase the risk of fires. Honda said it is not aware of any fires or injuries that have occurred as a result of this defect. Honda plans to inform owners of the affected cars in the upcoming weeks.

BMW has a global recall of 489,000 SUVs and cars due to an engine error. The cars’ engine control systems are held together by bolts that could break or come loose causing the engine to stall. BMW says no accidents have been reported as a result of this issue. The recall affects the 1 Series, 3 Series, 5 Series, X6, Z4 and other models produced from September 2009 to November 2011.

Ford has recalled 434,000 cars. 385,750 are the 2001-2004 Escape models that have been affected by road salt used in the Midwest. The salt can cause the subframe to rust and fail. One crash was related to this failure, but no injuries were reported. Ford plans on reinforcing the frame with a cross brace. The remaining 48,950 cars include the 2013 Fusion, Escape, Lincoln MKZ and C-Max for seatback issues. The welds in the seats do not meet the standards of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The insufficient welds increase the possibility of injury.

Volkswagen has announced two separate recalls. The first is for 150,000 Passat cars that have a headlight issue. The cars from 2012 and 2013 can be damaged if the car hood is closed forcefully. The impact from shutting the hood can cut off the electricity supply to the headlights. A dashboard warning would alert the driver if this happened.

VW’s other recall is for 26,452 2014 Jetta, Beetle, Beetle Convertible and Passat vehicles that have a 1.8T engine and torque converter automatic transmission. A seal between the transmission and the oil cooler can become loose and leak fluids.  Since the proximity to the engine causes a hot surface, the fluid touching the surface would result in a car fire. VW plans on notifying the vehicle owners and replacing the seal free of charge. VW has reported no injuries or crashes as a result of either issue.

Mazda has recalled 42,000 vehicles for a very peculiar reason. In the 2009-2011 models of the Mazda6, spiders can get inside the fuel hose and weave webs that could end up blocking the tube. The blocked tube can restrict air flow and result in added pressure leading to a fuel leak. Fuel leaks can result in fires (however, no fires have been linked to this issue).  Mazda plans on installing new software that will alert the driver if pressure begins to reach dangerous levels -- preventing any potential accidents.

Tesla has contacted owners of 29,000 2013 Model S vehicles for a recall. The adapter, cord or wall outlet could overheat during charging causing burns and/or fire. Tesla plans on releasing a software update allowing the charging system to detect any unforeseen changes.

For the time being, it is safer for car companies to recall products before they cause accidents. However, consumers tend not to pay attention to product recalls unless there are accidents to report. Driving one of these vehicles can be very dangerous for you and your loved ones. During this unfortunate recall season, make sure that you are not driving a vehicle that could put you in harm’s way. Remember to stay safe and contact Hupy and Abraham, S.C. if you need additional assistance.