Cross-Organizational Government Group Addresses Emissions

Washington, D.C. — August 31, 2016 — In a recent press release, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced a joint effort that will affect future models of cars and light trucks. According to this statement, the new draft report addresses emissions standards for some vehicles, building off of standards introduced four years ago.

Participating government groups include the Department of Transportation, the Environmental Protection Agency and the California Air Resource Board. The new Technical Assessment Report, announced in the release, also promotes newer technology for more efficient fuel use and lower emissions rates.

The source said that more than 100 types of vehicles currently meet standards up to at least 2020. The new report addresses model years between 2022 and 2025, and reportedly established that some of the technology they advocate won’t cost as much as previously thought.

Dr. Mark Rosekind, safety administrator for the NHTSA, praised the progress of the car industry in the statement, noting the existing changes designed to help save money and fuel.

“The draft report supports that the administration’s fuel economy program can continue to incentivize innovation and reduce fuel consumption while also ensuring that consumers can continue to choose the vehicles they want to drive,” Rosekind said. “The agencies welcome public comments to assist the agencies’ analysis and decision-making.”

One of the most widely known emissions actions from the NHTSA involves the Volkswagen recalls, as the manufacturer still struggles to respond in the aftermath of its emissions cheating scandal. Bloomberg reports that the company has established a settlement for $15.3 billion after its use of “defeat devices” became known.

Although the company could use up to $10 billion as part of the repurchasing program, there is no official fix announced for the vehicles, at least as of 2009.

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Engine Room Connections in Some Sentras Could be Faulty [Video]

Franklin, Tenn. — August 30, 2016 — Nissan has recalled more than fifteen hundred Sentra autos from the 2016 model year. These units could have control issues that affect engine performance. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration statement said that the engine room harness could lead to terminal connection issues that would determine whether the engine functions normally, potentially stalling.

The official recall is scheduled to start August 26th. During an April investigation, Nissan both addressed the problem themselves and prompted the component supplier, Yazaki, to investigate as well.

Because terminal pins in these vehicles could be too large to fit, the remedy will see dealers replace the pin entirely.

Read more about recent Nissan recalls in our blog.

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Volvo Truck Recall Addresses Axle Issues

Greensboro, N.C. — August 29, 2016 — A new recall concerns several Volvo truck models that leave drivers potentially at risk of losing control during operation. The official 473 Safety Recall Report explained that 1 percent of the 129 recalled vehicles in the U.S. were estimated to have the defect. While the action affects certain VNL and VNM models, both stem from the same range of production dates: April 16 to May 4 in 2012.

The recall addresses a problem associated with an axle from the manufacturer Meritor. The report said that some of the axles were “improperly heat-treated.” As a result, a beam included in the car could fracture. While it didn’t explain specifics, the report said that the fracture areas “could indicate some level of warning,” showing the driver that the fault exists.

A Safety Recall Alert from June 27, 2016 said that the recall affects 19 trucks outside of the country: 16 in Canada and three in Mexico. The dealers were instructed to increase awareness of the recall among their staff, correcting these issues in affected trucks before they were sold.

Meritor is a U.S. company based in Troy, Michigan. The original planned dealer notification date was June 24, with owners notified just five days later. However, owner notices and repair instructions were said to ship at July 29 at the very latest.

Before this recall, the 2013 VNL was also part of a different recall announced in October, 2015. In this action, 101 units were said to have electrical system defects. The metal housing mounting points in the electric auxiliary power units in these trucks were said to potentially “crack and tear,” according to the NHTSA-filed report.

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Fiat Chrysler Moves Away from Takata Air Bags for Jeeps

Auburn Hills, Mich. — August 26, 2016 — Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is officially halting the use of certain Takata air bag inflators in its new Jeeps. These inflators are the subject of an ongoing and extensive recall, which has affected millions of vehicles and resulted in multiple deaths. While FCA said that it isn’t aware of any failures, it will cease including these models in newer vehicles.

According to a press release from the source, the manufacturer will identify unsold vehicles that use these devices. Around 6,300 of the components were subjected to tests and proved stable, even in “potentially problematic environmental conditions.”

As with the other inflators involved in the Takata air bag recalls, the FCA has previously used “nondesiccated ammonium-nitrate” units, which could degrade in certain conditions. However, the source said that most of the American FCA vehicles “employ alternate propellants.” The last vehicle from the company to be produced with these inflators will be the 2016 Jeep Wrangler.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has tracked completion rates for all the automakers involved in this action. As of June 17, the Fiat Chrysler recalls had led to exactly 1,097,955 air bag repairs, which is 22.7 percent of the total amount. Within this number, it has repaired 24.5 percent of driver-side air bags and 12.1 percent of passenger-side.

So far, the company with the highest completion rate is Honda, which has repaired 48.3 percent of its total air bags. Toyota is second with 30.4 percent repaired, and Nissan is third with 25 percent. Overall, the recalls have seen more than 8.8 million units repaired, most of which are driver-side units.

The NHTSA accelerated the recall May 4, addressing Takata directly and prompting it to support the new additions of as many as 40 million inflators.

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Civil Penalties Announced for VW in California

San Francisco, Calif. — August 25, 2016 — This month, the state of California declared some new developments in the ongoing dispute with Volkswagen. The manufacturer has mounted international efforts after it was revealed that “defeat devices” altered the results of emissions tests. According to a statement from California’s Attorney General Kamala Harris, Volkswagen will pay a sum of $86 million in civil penalties.

The statement said that as many as 86,000 vehicles sold in California between 2009 and 2015 may have been affected by these distorted tests. This is part of a larger federal settlement worth $14.7 billion. The related Volkswagen recalls also come after grander efforts that include a buyback program.

This action involved the Department of Justice and the Environmental Protection Agency. California agencies will receive $10 million, along with a combined $1.18 billion for emission-reducing tech investments and environmental mitigation efforts. The settlement also includes provisions requiring the manufacturer to cease using “false or deceptive advertising.”

“This additional settlement sends an unequivocal message to Volkswagen and any other automaker that California will aggressively enforce our robust consumer and environmental protection laws,” Harris said.

Meanwhile, the company is also negotiating similar measure in Germany, as Fortune recently reported. The source said that prosecutors will research the actual financial impact of the defeat devices, perhaps leading to “several hundreds of millions of euros” in fines.

An unnamed spokesman for the prosecution’s office said that the case will not take the fines Volkswagen is already paying in the U.S. into consideration, instead issuing an appropriate fine independent of any other penalty.

This office reportedly began questioning related high-ranking officers, including Martin Winterkorn, chair of the Volkswagen group. Fortune also mentioned that the manufacturer will face criminal charges in South Korea as well as Germany and the U.S.

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Touran Vehicles Part of New Volkswagen Recall as Company Addresses Diesel

Wolfsburg, Germany — August 24, 2015 — A corrosion risk has led to a new recall for Volkswagen, according to Reuters. That source reported that the German manufacturer will recall 5,900 vehicles to address possible risks in 2006-2009 Touran models, most of which are registered in Germany.

The article added that the international recall could place occupants in danger if the front gas tanks experience corrosion. As they wait for the official remedy from professionals, owners are instructed to “run the cars with gasoline” instead as a precaution. Dealers will replace the front gas bottles in affected models.

This is unrelated to the Volkswagen recall for emissions, which has been progressing both in Europe and the United States. That much-publicized case involved defeat devices on many Volkswagen vehicles, used to disguise their actual exhaust levels.

Last month, Bloomberg reported that some of its diesel customers will receive as much as $7,000 in funds from a clean air grant. The source quoted attorney Elizabeth Cabraser on the aftermath of a recent settlement between the manufacturer and various entities.

“This settlement will provide substantial benefits to both consumers and the environment — providing car owners and lessees fair value for their vehicles, while also removing environmentally harmful vehicles from the road,” Cabraser said.

The June 23 article said that the negotiated settlement will likely include more than $10 billion, and will involve a wide-reaching assessment of the pollutants caused by affected vehicles. Since the defeat devices have been used since 2009, inspections will take diesel smog from as far back as that year into account. Government agencies were, as of the date of this source, still waiting to approve the manufacturer’s proposed remedy plan.

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Complaints Trigger Investigation into Ford Exhaust Issues

Washington, D.C. — August 23, 2016 — Though they haven’t led to an official recall yet, a series of complaints has the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration looking into possible exhaust hazards in Ford Explorer vehicles. Automotive News said that there have been 154 claims of exhaust smells in some Explorers, with affected model years ranging from 2011 to 2015.

For both dealers and owners, serious complaints can be the beginning of a recall, depending on the action. As of July 5, there was no official estimate given for the number of affected vehicles. However, the source did say that the problem has appeared “when the vehicle is at full throttle.”

The issue has also been connected to a single crash, albeit one that did not result in any injuries. According to the complaints listed on the NHTSA website, affected owners have reported from throughout the country, including Michigan, New Jersey, Texas and Arizona, as well as multiple notices in different regions of Florida.

Several of these complaints said they smelled the odor specifically after accelerating. As they continue their investigations, the NHTSA will work with the manufacturer to develop an appropriate solution.

More recent Ford recalls include a joint effort for both 2016 Explorers and 2015 and 2016 Lincoln vehicles for an engine block heater issue. The Part 573 Safety Recall Report said that the units in these impacted vehicles could overheat while the transmission is in park.

While there were no known fires connected to this problem, the report stated that overheating could create a higher risk and lead to a leak in engine coolant, as well as damage to the electrical connector. Ford and Lincoln dealers were said to fix the issue by replacing the block heater and electrical cord as necessary.

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NHTSA Identifies Higher-Risk Vehicles for Takata Inflators

Washington, D.C. — August 22, 2016 — As the Takata air bag recalls have developed, more information about risk factors has emerged. Previous announcements have emphasized the environmental factors that could affect these inflators and lead to a higher chance for rupture.

In a June 30 press release, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration listed seven specific model-year ranges of Honda and Acura vehicles with Takata inflators that are more likely to rupture during a crash.

While these vehicles were already part of previous recalls, the statement said that 313,000 affected autos have not been repaired yet. High absolute humidity levels continue to be a significant risk factor, making the recall effort especially important in states like Florida and Texas.

The higher risk level could mean that inflators in the following vehicles have as much as a 50 percent chance of rupture, the source said. The affected Honda vehicles are the Civic and Accord from model years 2001 and 2002, the 2002 Cr-V and Odyssey models, and the 2003 Pilot. The other two ranges of vehicles are the 2002-2003 Acura TL and the 2003 Acura CL.

Dr. Mark Rosekind, administrator for the NHTSA, said, “The air bag inflators in this particular group of vehicles pose a grave danger to drivers and passengers that must be fixed right away.”

Honda will reportedly work harder to address these vehicles specifically, while the NHTSA continues its owner-awareness campaign.

Other totals from the NHTSA shows the repair rate as of June 17. According to this data, the Honda recalls have led to 48.3 percent of air bags repaired so far, the majority of which are passenger-side air bags. Of the 12 makes listed, Honda has the highest overall completion rate so far.

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Small Number of 2016 Vehicles Part of Volkswagen Recalls

Auburn Hills, Mich. — August 19, 2016 — Some 2016 Volkswagen Golf R vehicles could bear incorrect information on the Safety Certification Label, one recent recall stated. According to a Part 573 Safety Recall Report from May 20, 11 vehicles are potentially involved in this action, and a full 100 percent of them are thought to have the defect.

The Report, available through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, said that these vehicles could contain an incorrect rear-axle weight limit. The displayed weight could be more than 1000 pounds off from the actual maximum amount of 2227 pounds.

The concerned vehicles were produced between May 17 and 23, 2016. The inaccurate labels were discovered April 13 this year and were reportedly caused by “”new printer installation,” the source said. As a result, the printers accidentally produced labels with default weight values. Assuming this number is correct, numerous owners could misjudge their vehicles’ weight capacity and potentially overload them.

All 11 of the Golf R vehicles involved in this action are located in the United States, a dealership communication from May 24 said. The document stated that “parts were allocated to address affected dealer inventory vehicles” because of the small number of vehicles involved.

This issue has led to recent Toyota recalls as well. Last month, Car Complaints reported on a series of Toyota and Scion models recalled for weight label discrepancies. Model years ranged between 2015 and 2016, and included 2,520 total vehicles.

Due to inaccurate load-carrying-capacity modification labels, a report filed with the NHTSA said that these vehicles could fail to comply with federal standards. The problem was discovered in May, and owner notification is planned for July 14 and 15. While it was making calculations, the manufacturer halted production on the impacted vehicles.

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New Round of Ford Recalls Start Off July 2016

Dearborn, Mich. — August 18, 2016 — Ford ended June 2016 by announcing three new recalls in a single press release. All of the vehicles involved in these efforts are from either the 2015 and 2016 model years. While each of these cases extend outside of the United States, the majority of vehicles in all three recalls are in the U.S.

According to the source, only one of these is a safety recall, while the other two are safety compliance recalls. The manufacturer is not aware of any injuries or accidents connected to any of these issues. All together, the three Ford recalls concern approximately 8,218 vehicles.

The safety recall concerns transmission assembly problems in both 2015 and 2016 Ford Focus Electric autos produced at either the Michigan or Saarlouis assembly plants. A certain coating could lead to fractures in the differential pinion shaft of these vehicles, so dealers will replace the assembly completely with a setup that includes the right friction-reducing coating.

One of the safety compliance recalls addresses 6,661 Ford F-150 and Ford Explorer units, both from model year 2016 and possibly containing improperly welded driver seat backs. The other involves 608 2016 Ford Transit Connect vehicles that may have a brake hydraulic control unit.

Before this, the most recent recall-related Ford press release involved the Takata air bag inflator recall. In that statement, the manufacturer said that it was adding several brands to the existing recall numbers for issues with nondesiccated passenger-side frontal airbag inflators. Model years for these vehicles collectively ranged from 2005 and 2011.

As of June 17, Ford had completed 20.2 percent of passenger-side air bag repairs, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said. On a larger scale, Ford has finished just 7.1 percent of its total air bag repairs.

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