Articles Tagged with Product Liability

Modern automobiles are marvels of technology and engineering, but even the most sophisticated mechanical and electronic systems can and do fail. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration protects road users in Kentucky and around the country by making sure that manufacturers address safety defects promptly. In fact, the federal safety watchdog has ordered the recall of more than 390 million potentially dangerous vehicles, 46 million defective tires and 42 million child safety seats since 1966.

The NHTSA orders vehicle recalls when it learns of potentially dangerous defects like airbags that sometimes deploy unexpectedly or ignition switches that can get stuck and cause crashes. While these problems are sometimes brought to the NHTSA’s attention by car manufacturers or parts suppliers, they often only become apparent after cars have been involved in accidents and road users have been killed or injured.

The NHTSA generally only orders recalls when product defects represent a legitimate hazard to passenger vehicle occupants or other road users. Therefore, vehicle owners may be wise to check the safety agency’s website regularly for information about any outstanding safety issues. Motorists who notice defects or unusual vehicle behavior and wish to alert the authorities should contact the NHTSA’s Office of Defects Investigation. The ODI contacts manufacturers about safety problems and orders recalls when a series of incidents can be traced back to a defective part, faulty design or some lapse in the manufacturing process.

Kentucky residents who drive Dodge Ram pickup trucks or chassis cabs may soon be receiving recall notices from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. The London-based multinational auto manufacturer announced on Sept. 19 that it was recalling 443,712 vehicles due to a water pump problem that could cause serious engine fires. Models covered by the recall include Ram 2500 and 3500 pickups and 3500, 4500 and 5500 chassis cabs equipped with 6.7-liter engines manufactured between 2013 and 2017. Fiat says that recall notices will be mailed once dealers have sufficient supplies of the parts needed to complete the repairs.

Fiat claims that no injuries or accidents have been caused by the defective water pumps, but the company acknowledges that the problem has caused a number of engine fires. FCS engineers alerted federal authorities when Dodge pickup truck owners began to report overheating issues, and the ensuing investigation soon focused on a water pump bearing that could overheat in certain situations. Fiat says that the water pump involved is no longer used by the company or fitted to any of its vehicles.

Water pumps cool engines by circulating water between their cooling systems and engine blocks, and fires are a real possibility when this flow is interrupted or restricted. Fiat says that many of the drivers who reported overheating issues with Ram pickup trucks became aware of the problem when a warning light illuminated, and the company has urged its customers to watch their dashboards closely and contact an authorized dealer without delay if they notice anything unusual.

Kentucky owners of certain Volkswagen CC and Passat sedans can expect recall notices. Citing a fuel pump problem that can stall the vehicles, Volkswagen Group has chosen to issue a recall of CC sedans with 2009 to 2016 model years and Passat sedans with 2006 to 2010 model years. The manufacturer reports that the defective part has not caused any injuries in the United States, but the issue could halt fuel flow to engines and present a danger to drivers and passengers.

Disclosures from the company to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration explain that the computers operating the fuel pumps could lose power and stop engines. The computer glitch could also cause the fuel pumps to keep moving fuel even when the car is turned off. The vehicles equipped with the fuel pumps all have four-cylinder engines. The automaker oversaw a similar recall last year in China after Chinese authorities investigated the fuel pump issue.

The company will send out letters to vehicle owners to warn them about the problem. A second notice will go out after the company obtains replacement computers. When the new parts are available, dealerships will install new computers and adjust the fuel pumps to reduce their exposure to heat and vibration.

Kentucky motorists might have heard that Mazda is recalling 79,402 vehicles due to faulty Takata air bag inflators. The recall is part of a worldwide recall effort that involves 19 automakers and 100 million vehicles, including 2.7 million added by Takata in July.

The Takata air bag inflators contain a propellant that can decay over time, which could potentially cause the air bag to rupture and shoot shrapnel into the vehicle’s passenger compartment. Vehicles that have had prolonged exposure to high temperatures and high humidity are more likely to experience the problem. Mazda is recalling certain CX-7, CX-9 and Mazda 6 vehicles from model years 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2012. The recall supersedes one made by the automaker in January that offered a temporary fix for air bags that were most at risk of failure. This time, dealers will permanently replace the faulty air bag inflator.

Takata has known about the faulty air bag inflators since at least 2000. However, the company attempted to cover up the problem with false and fraudulent documents.

Kentucky residents who own vehicles made by General Motors may be interested to learn that the manufacturer has announced a recall that effects more than 690,000 vehicles. The recall effects both GMC and Chevrolet pickup trucks.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said that the vehicles could have a software problem that could potentially cause them to suddenly lose their electric power steering assistance. Although this power loss only affects the power steering for about one minute, drivers could lose temporary control of their steering. In some cases, this could result in a crash. The NHTSA said that drivers were most vulnerable to the software glitch when making low-speed turns.

The trucks that are potentially affected by the recall include model year GMC Sierra trucks and model year 2014 Chevrolet Silverados. The manufacturer said that vehicle owners should take the trucks to their local GM dealer where they will receive a software update that will fix the glitch for no cost. The NHTSA also has a list available of all the vehicles affected by the recall.

Kentucky car owners whose vehicles are among the millions scheduled to be serviced for defective airbag inflators may have to wait longer than expected. According to a report issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Dec. 31 deadline to comply with the terms of the recall order on Takata airbags will not be met, which means that millions of drivers will continue to be at risk of serious injury and even death.

The Takata defective inflator recall has been one of the most prominent cases of negligent manufacturer action in history. According to a report by the Associated Press, 12 U.S.deaths have been attributed to Takata inflators that have either failed or expelled shrapnel during collisions. In the July 2017 death of a 34-year old driver in Florida, investigators are seeking to determine whether the airbag in that case exploded upon deployment.

Based on the most current information, Ford, Nissan, Mazda, Chrysler, and Subaru are among the automakers actively complying with the recall order, but their completion rates are below 50 percent. The best performer thus far is Honda, which has completed more than 60 percent but still has more than 3 million vehicles to service. The Takata airbag recall began i after federal regulators and prosecutors accelerated the process against the manufacturer of the inflators that deploy these safety devices. The NHTSA took a lot of heat from lawmakers who believed that the agency was not taking swift action on this issue.

Kentucky Honda owners should be aware that the automaker is recalling 1.15 million Accord models in the U.S. to fix a battery defect that could cause engine fires. The recall covers 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016 model years.

According to Honda, the affected models have a 12-volt battery sensor that can short circuit or become eroded because it is inadequately shielded from moisture and other elements. Four engine fires have been linked to the problem. The automaker stated that it will send out notifications telling owners when they can take their vehicles to a local dealer for an inspection and free repair.

Due to the scale of the recall, battery sensors found to be in good condition will be temporarily repaired. However, Honda said that all affected vehicles will receive a permanent repair once enough replacement parts are manufactured. The automaker unveiled the redesigned 2018 Honda Accord in July.

An airbag is a critical component of a car’s safety system, and there is no question that it saves lives. Unfortunately, there is also the risk of an airbag failing to operate correctly and causing serious injuries or death during an accident. Kentucky residents are advised to ensure their vehicle’s airbags are in proper working order and respond quickly to any recalls or maintenance requests.

Drivers became more concerned about airbag safety after major airbag manufacturer Takata recalled 65 to 70 million airbags across 19 different car manufactures. Very high numbers of Honda, Toyota and Subaru vehicles were impacted as well as smaller numbers of vehicles from other manufacturers for model years between 2002 and 2015. The recall was due to a failure of the airbag’s inflator that may cause metal shards to pass through the airbag when it deploys.

While a defective airbag may seem like a minor issue, it can result in unnecessary and serious injuries. Airbags deploy in many accident situations, especially frontal collisions or any time a vehicle stops suddenly. An accident that would normally result in no injuries or minor injuries could prove fatal if a defective airbag deploys incorrectly. It is impossible to know for sure if an airbag is defective without professional inspection and maintenance. Since the projectiles from the airbag can travel throughout the cabin, any defective airbag anywhere in the cabin could cause injury.

Some Kentucky motorists may want to pay closer attention to where they park after learning about a large Mazda recall. It involves 227,000 vehicles that are at risk of manual parking brake failure.

Mazda responded to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration findings that the parking brake on both Mazda 3 and Mazda 6 models had failed in some instances. The manual brake mechanism did not form a proper seal and was admitting water into the mechanism. This resulted in corrosion that could decrease brake performance and cause problems with driving. The issue was widespread enough to risk defective product claims against the company.

The recall effects 2014 and 2016 Mazda 3 and 2014 and 2015 Mazda 6 models. The defective auto part brake systems will be repaired free of charge by dealerships. Formal notification of the product recall to dealers is not expected until Aug. 7, 2017. Owners will receive notification two weeks after this.

Kentucky drivers who own Ford vehicle should be aware that, on June 28, the motor vehicle company recalled approximately 400,000 vehicles due to a coupling issue and a driveshaft issue. The recall affects Ford Transit van or bus models from 2015 to 2017.

The affected vehicles were built in a Michigan-based plan between January 2014 and June 2017. It appears that some of those vehicles may have a cracked flexible coupling, which could cause the driveshaft to separate. If this happens, the vehicle could lose motive power while it is being driven. It could also cause vehicles that are parked without the parking brake engaged to move unintentionally. There have been no injuries or accidents reported due to these potential safety issues.

A safety compliance recall was also issued for four Ford Police Interceptor Utility vehicles for attachment stud replacements. A second safety compliance recall that affects three U.S. Ford Escape vehicles was issued due to a need to replace the driver knee airbag modules. No known accidents or injuries were reported due to these issues.

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