The Lowdown on Vehicle Recalls

MSN Auto News reported that on out of every six cars on the road in the US has an untreated safety recall. This amounts to an astonishing 63 million autos. And some drivers may not even know about pending or past recalls.

While not all recalls are safety related, many certainly are.

By the amount of media attention recalls are getting, it might make the problem seem bigger than it is. But by issuing recalls, this is a sign that auto makers are doing the right thing—especially since cars are much more complex now than they were decades ago.

It may shock some to learn that it is 100% legal in the United States to sell a vehicle with a current recall notice out. Of course, changing such legislation while simple in principle, may not be so easy in practice. Recalling a car and getting the car fixed are two very different things. You can’t force car owners to get their cars fixed. At least, not yet.

And depending on the age of the vehicle, number of ownership transfers, and particular state privacy laws having to do with car ownership manufacturers may not know how to reach current owners. And some car owners simply suffer from recall fatigue.

There is some good news, however.

In February, the Center for Auto Safety and other consumer groups sued the Federal Trade Commission to stop allowing car dealers to advertise certified pre-owned vehicles with unrepaired safety recalls.

One person trying to help fix the situation is Chris Miller, CEO of Silicon Valley startup Recall Masters. Using digital forensics of more than 50 data sources—including electronic receipts from independent repair shops, tire-store chains, satellite radio subscription rolls, and even dispatch rolls from towing services—Miller’s software then invokes machine learning and data modeling to track down current vehicle owners.

Honda Recalls 1.2 Million Accords Over Fire-Prone Batteries

According to MSN Auto News Honda is recalling 1.2 million accords whose batteries might catch fire. Owners of Accord midsize sedans from model years 2013-2016 should call Honda customer service at 1 (888) 946-6329.

The issue is with sensors on the battery’s negative terminal that were not properly sealed to resist moisture. Road salt can cause corrosion and possibly a short, which in turn creates heat and potentially fire. Honda has already reported four incidents of engine fires from exposed battery sensors. Thankfully none of these incidents caused injury or death. All incidents happened in the U.S. during winter months when road salt was being used.

As is the routine, owners will be notified and dealers will replace faulty sensors free of charge. Sensors that show no signs of corrosion will still receive an adhesive sealant and will be replaced once parts become available.

Honda May Face 35 Million Dollar Fine

Although automakers are required to report deaths and injury claims involving their vehicles to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, automaker Honda failed to report 1,729 serious accidents that involved death or injury between 2003 and 2014. Honda blames computer programming and data entry errors.

This under-reporting could cost this automaker tens of millions of dollars.

Honda finds itself in a turbulent ocean – as the news of the under-reporting comes upon them as they deal with the recall of some 6 million cars world wide that contain the Takata airbags. Airbags that can explode and hit passengers with shrapnel. Honda has acknowledged four deaths involving the Takata airbags. Eight of the unreported seventeen hundred some accidents involved the Takata airbags.

The mistakes have come to light after NHTSA asked Honda to conduct an internal review of its reporting process.

NHTSA has not yet announced if it will fine Honda, but could fine them a maximum of 35 million dollars—a hit GM had to take for a decade long delay in reporting faulty ignition switches that were tied to at least 35 deaths. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx has stated that the 35 million dollar limit amounts to little more than a “rounding error” for an Automaker like Honda who makes billions of dollars a year. His department is petitioning Congress to raise the limit to 300 million.


Joe Victor

Drive Safe Ford Owners! Ford Recalls 1.3 Million Cars

Jody Victor would like Ford owners to please check this list to make sure there isn’t a safety issue with your vehicle! A variety of Ford vehicles from as far back as 2006 are now known to have safety issues involving power steering, fire hazards or floor mats.

2011-2013 Ford Explorers and 2008-2011 Escapes and Mercury Mariners are known to have an issue where the power steering can cut out. Explorer models have an issue with electric motor position sensors that can cause the sensors to intermittently shut off due to poor cable connections and this disables the power steering. For Escape and Mariner models the issue resides in torque sensors, in which the sensors may produce a low-fidelity signal that causes the computer to not recognize the driver’s steering movements and will disable the power steering.
Dealers will update the power steering software to continue delivering power assist even if a fault is detected in the system. This January, Ford shipped repair kits for the torque sensors, but the recalls do not call for any part replacements.

On the sedan side of things, the 2010-2014 Ford Taurus has license plate lamps that can corrode, short, and catch fire. Ford first found the problem in 2011, and after initially drawing a blank to the cause, it opened a second investigation in May 2013 and redesigned the lamp in February. The fires continued on these new models, however, and thus dealers will now install new lamp assemblies on 196,639 cars, of which 183,425 are in the U.S. Ford said it knew of at least five owner reports of smoking or melting lamps and another 20 reporting fires. Only vehicles sold or registered in 20 “salt belt” states (plus Washington, D.C.) are included, although Ford said it would also notify other Taurus owners of the condition.

Ford Taurus 2010-2014 models has an issue with its license plate lamps. The lamps may corrode, short out and catch fire. Only vehicles sold or registered in 20 so-called Salt Belt states (plus Washington, D.C.). Ford said they would notify other Taurus owners of the issue, however.

Finally, Ford is recalling approximately 80,000 all-weather floor mats that were sold as accessories between 2006-2011 for the following Ford models: Fusion, Mercury Milan, Lincoln Zephyr and Lincoln MKZ. These floor mats may cause the throttle pedal to get partially stuck. Ford stated it doesn’t matter if drivers put the all-weather mats over the standard mats or removed the standard mats before installing the all-weather ones. Ford is now redesigning these mats as part of the recall.

You can check for recalls on any Ford model by following the directions at Ford’s official owner’s website.

Joe Victor