Toyota Collaborates with the Carma Project to Encourage Recall Compliance

 

Laguna Hills, Calif. – January 31, 2019 – Toyota is seeking to make more vehicle owners aware of recent recalls, particularly the Takata air bag recall, which is expected to affect 55 to 70 million vehicles across 19 manufacturers by the end of 2019. To that end, the automotive manufacturer is partnering with the Carma Project, run by Tony Lim, to incentivize spreading awareness of the recall and prompt customers to check their vehicle identification numbers (VINs) to see if their car is affected.

Takata Airbag Recall

Impacted vehicles were originally fitted with Takata air bags. These air bags’ inflators are filled with ammonium nitrate, which can become unstable over time due to degradation caused by aging, temperature fluctuations and humidity. Once the material is no longer stable, a crash can cause the metal canister inside the air bag to explode, sending shrapnel flying through the interior of the car and putting the driver and any passengers at risk of serious injury or death.

The Carma Project

Anyone can visit carmaproject.com, sign up, and share messages about the recall to their social network. Participants can receive $5 in gift cards for every Toyota owner who schedules an appointment to have their vehicle repaired, and an additional $50 worth of gift cards when they actually have their vehicle repaired. Actions taken on social platforms or elsewhere can be recorded and rewarded with “Carma Coins,” which are redeemable as gift cards from major retailers through the Bitmo platform.

Air Bag Replacement

The air bag replacement is free for the Toyota owner, who can have the service done at any Toyota or Lexus location. Carma Group also offers a downloadable app, which can be used to check and see if any vehicle is part of the recall.

Toyota determines which vehicles are eligible for bonuses (CarmaCoin) based on the priority group assigned to the vehicle by NHTSA. For more information visit www.safercar.gov.

Sean ReyesToyota Collaborates with the Carma Project to Encourage Recall Compliance

BMW recalls 2016 M3 and M4 over drive shaft issue

 

Munich – Jan. 31, 2019 – BMW has issued a recall for its M3 and M4 models, to counter a potentially dangerous fault within the vehicles’ drive shafts. According to a company statement reported by Car Advice, the vehicles requiring inspection and repair were sold in Australia and noted by that country’s product safety monitor. The organization with recall authority in the U.S., the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, has been inactive for much of January due to the government’s funding shutdown, thus making it unclear if a similar recall will affect U.S. BMW owners.

The vehicles involved are all sedans from the 2016 model year. The M3, M4 and M4 convertible are all affected by the recall and according to the announcement, these vehicles exist in very small quantities in Australia. With 97 vehicles affected, the M3 is the most popular of the three types. There are 71 of the hardtop M4, with only 10 of the convertible M4 recorded.

The process of recalling the vehicles shows that automakers follow procedure even when the number of cars in question is relatively small in a particular territory. Recent actions by specialist carmakers such as Maserati show attention being paid to models that were not made or exported in mass quantities.

The Defect

According to the company’s announcement, the potentially dangerous problem leading to the recent action is located within the affected vehicles’ drive shafts. The shafts on these cars are made of carbon fiber and contain two internal components – the three-hole flange and the pushing piece. The company questioned whether the pieces within the drive shaft will hold up over time and usage over the lifespan of the cars. If these parts were not made with “sufficient long-term durability”, the pushing piece could end up pulled out of the drive shaft, limiting the vehicle’s torque to the rear wheels. Such a lack of torque may may increase the risk of a collision, leading to the necessity of a recall.

Timeline of Events

The announcement from BMW did not clarify several pieces of information about the recall underway, such as how it was discovered or when. The vehicles involved all originate from the 2016 model years, but the notice was not issued until late January 2019. The press materials did not mention whether the fault was discovered as part of an inspection, due to an actual incident on the road or in a laboratory test. Furthermore, no connection to cars from outside of the Australian market was discussed.

The Solution

The statement announcing the recall was similarly quiet about what exactly the fix to the problem will entail. Drivers were urged by Car Advice to get in touch with their respective BMW dealers and receive repairs for the drive shaft free of charge. Due to the nature of the problem, with parts potentially not tough enough to stand up to long-term use, it appears likely those component will be replaced with stronger replacement parts, thus making the drive shaft safe for continued use, no matter how long the sedans are on the road.

Sean ReyesBMW recalls 2016 M3 and M4 over drive shaft issue

Subaru ponders 14,000-car recall amid production shutdown

 

Tokyo – Jan. 31, 2019 – Subaru has paused production of multiple vehicle types at its factory in Japan due to the possibility of a defect in the cars’ power steering systems. The automaker is deciding how to proceed with the 14,000 affected cars, some of which were sold in Japan and others of which are destined for export to other territories. Most of the cars impacted are likely bound for the U.S. The Forester, XV and Impreza are the three models that may include the defective component.

A report from Nikkei noted that recent years have seen over 500,000 cars recalled by Subaru. While past recalls have been caused by potential faults in components such as valve springs, as well as actions such as regulatory compliance failures. The most recent plant shutdown has not turned into a fully declared recall, but it has impacted cars even beyond those that may have the defective part, as the factory equipment is employed to produce multiple vehicle types.

The Defect

The problem that has caused the concern involves part of the electrical assembly used in power steering. The component in question is a third-party item produced by Hitachi Automotive systems and used in the three Subaru models. The Nikkei report explained that when the part fails, a warning light activates on the dashboard, and steering the car becomes harder for the driver. Xinhua noted there have been two instances of such a failure happening, though no one has been reported injured yet.

The fact that Subaru cars use a unique engine configuration known as the “boxer” layout may have exacerbated the challenges of the situation. The components for these engines are not compatible with generic hardware that work in more standardized engines. Subaru technicians searched for a solution to the current issue that did not require manufacturing and ordering a “made from scratch” replacement part. That meant isolating the exact issue causing the fault and correcting it.

To remove the defective parts from the supply chain, Subaru shut down its main production facility in Gunma Prefecture, Japan, which produces 2,600 cars a day when operational. Most of the vehicles produced in the plant – 80 percent – are exported, and Nikkei added that 60 percent of those cars go to U.S. dealerships. After ascertaining which part would have to be replaced to resume production, Subaru reopened its plant on schedule, according to Xinhua.

As the component is produced by an outside supplier, Hitachi has also been contacted for input. Hitachi stated that problems during car assembly are unlikely, which may mean the electronics within the steering components are faulty.

Timeline of Events

The potential recall at Subaru has developed over a relatively short time frame. All the affected vehicles that contain the potentially defective part were produced between late December 2018 and the Jan. 16 shutdown of the Gumna plant. Upon discovery of the fault, Subaru declared a week-long shutdown and sent out recall notices for roughly 780 vehicles that were made at the facility in question and sent to be sold on the Japanese market instead of overseas, according to the Xinhua report.

Nikkei added that the quality control division within Subaru, which has been the subject of some of the automaker’s recent scandals in the Japanese market, did not catch the potential power steering problem. Instead, two reports of problems with steering were used to determine the part responsible. Fortunately, there were no collisions or injuries of any kind reported due to the power steering issues. While the vehicles may have become hard to control, they didn’t crash.

The automaker’s recent series of scandals, as described by Nikkei, began in late 2017. At that time, Subaru revealed that some of its inspections were performed by staff without the proper certifications. After that, more troubling details emerged. In November 2018, a valve spring problem caused the recall of 101,000 vehicles, with 100,000 more added because of legal compliance issues.

These recalls have taken a toll on the company’s finances. In the immediate aftermath of the plant closure notice, Subaru’s stock price fell 6 percent on the Tokyo exchange. The announcement that the stoppage would only last a week provided some relief, but the impact was still a net negative, demonstrating the lasting financial impact of repeated recall events and quality-control problems.

The Solution

Due to several complicating factors, the exact course of action Subaru will take is unclear. The roughly 14,000 exported cars that may contain faulty Hitachi steering components have not been officially recalled. Since the vehicles have all been produced over the past few months, many of them are likely still in the custody of dealers rather than customers.

The automaker is pondering sending replacement parts overseas to replace the faulty components, according to Xinhua, rather than recalling the vehicles to Japan to be refitted. The domestic recall has been the most straightforward part of the process, with the under-1,000 vehicles produced for the Japan market already recalled.

Since the production facility impacted is primarily used to produce export vehicles, and most of those cars are bound for the U.S., there is a chance American regulators may soon be involved in the recall process. Recent weeks have seen no new announcements from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, as it shut down operations along with other Federal agencies during the budget impasse. During that silence, some automakers have still issued their own recall notices for U.S. vehicles, including the latest wave of Takata air bag inflator repairs.

Sean ReyesSubaru ponders 14,000-car recall amid production shutdown

Honda Recalls More Than 1,000 Leased Clarity Fuel Cell Vehicles

Laguna Hills, Calif. – January 31, 2019 –  Honda is recalling 1,082 model-year 2017-2018 Clarity Fuel Cell vehicles, all located in California, and all part of a leasing program. The action affects some vehicles already listed under a previous recall.

The Defect

According to Consumer Affairs, the Fuel Cell Electronic Control Unit (ECU) responsible for monitoring voltage in the fuel cell stack can possibly misinterpret a minor voltage variance. In such cases, the ECO may erroneously shut down the fuel cell stack in response to the misinterpreted data. The shutdown of the fuel stack could result in an unexpected loss of motive power. Such a power loss, especially at high speeds, can significantly increase the risk of a crash and potentially cause harm to the vehicle’s driver or passengers.

Timeline of Events

According to Tire Meets Road, the Honda Clarity has been marketed as a “lease-only option” for drivers. Unlike a standard electric car which uses a battery to store electricity, the hydrogen fuel cell Clarity requires compressed hydrogen running constantly through a fuel cell, which produces electricity that powers the car’s electric motor. There have been online comments about loss of power and other issues with high parts costs and A1 service bills.

In 2017, a similar recall was issued for 2017 Honda Clarity models. Approximately 470 model-year 2017 Honda Clarity Fuel Cell electric vehicles were recalled to service dealerships for a reset of ECO software to rectify power system problems, but lack of available parts has delayed resolving this issue for 2017 cars until mid-February 2019. The current recall for 2018 vehicles is expected to be similarly delayed.

The Solution

Honda will begin notifying owners in mid-February 2019. A dealership will update the ECU software for free. Owners can call the automaker at 888-234-2138. Owners may also contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153), or go to www.safercar.gov.

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Sean ReyesHonda Recalls More Than 1,000 Leased Clarity Fuel Cell Vehicles

GM Recalls More Than 1,000 Chevy Malibus for Air Bag Defects

 

Detroit – Jan. 31, 2019 – General Motors is recalling certain 2010-2011 Chevrolet Malibu vehicles, due to a potentially dangerous air bag defect. Up to 1,145 units may be affected by this issue.

The Defect

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Safety Report, in the event of a crash necessitating deployment of the driver frontal air bag, the air bag inflator in these cars may explode due to being overpressurized. If the inflator explodes, sharp metal fragments may strike the driver or other occupants, resulting in serious injury or death.

Timeline of Events

On November 30, 2017, an attorney contacted GM and claimed that on Sept. 22, 2017, the front-driver air bag inflator in a 2011 Chevrolet Malibu ruptured during a crash-related deployment and injured his client.

GM reported the allegation to NHTSA Dec. 6 of the same year in accordance with Standing General Orders 2015-01 and 2015-02.  Between Nov. 30, 2017 and Dec. 13, 2018, GM made multiple attempts to locate and inspect the vehicle to confirm whether or not a rupture had occurred. A GM engineer was permitted to inspect the vehicle and components. Based on that examination, GM determined that the front-driver airbag inflator in the subject vehicle likely overpressurized and ruptured during deployment.

On December 19, 2018, GM presented the inspection photos and the other findings of its preliminary analysis to the NHTSA. On Dec. 20, 2018, GM’s Safety Field Action Decision Authority (SFADA) decided to conduct a safety recall on the ARC inflators built in the suspect manufacturing lot. At the time of the initial filing, GM was not aware of other rupture allegations involving this ARC inflator in GM vehicles.

The Solution

GM has notified owners of these potentially problematic vehicles, and dealers will replace the front driver air bag module for free. Interim notices informing owners of the safety risk were mailed Feb. 8, 2019. Owners will receive a second notice when the remedy becomes available, which is expected to be in late March 2019. Owners may contact GM customer service at 1-800-522-9559. GM’s number for this recall is N182206630. Owners may also contact the NHTSA Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153), or go to www.safercar.gov. The NHTSA Campaign Number for this recall is 19V-019000.

Sean ReyesGM Recalls More Than 1,000 Chevy Malibus for Air Bag Defects

Toyota Recalls Nearly 4,400 Corolla Hatchbacks Due to Major Transmission Issue

 

Plano, Texas – January 30, 2019 –  Toyota is recalling close to 3,400 2019 Toyota Corolla hatchbacks in the USA and a further nearly 1,000 vehicles in Canada due to a faulty component in the transmission. Only Corolla Hatchbacks with a continuously variable transmission (CVT) are included in this recall. The Corolla sedan is excluded, as are any hatchbacks with manual transmissions.

The Defect

According to Toyota, in the involved vehicles, there is a possibility the that due to a manufacturing error, the blades of the pump impeller in the torque converter may detach, causing the converter in the Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) to fail. This may lead to a loss of vehicle power. If the part fails while the car is in motion, the vehicle’s loss of power could increase the risk of a crash, especially if the failure happens when the vehicle is traveling at a high speed, which could lead to a crash or possible vehicle rollover or even an explosion due to catastrophic transmission failure.

Timeline of Events

The news of the pending recall came in late December. It has not yet been released what prompted the investigation that led to the recall, although at this time no accidents or injuries related to the vehicles being recalled are known as yet. Toyota introduced its new “Direct Shift-CVT” in 2018 and implemented it in the 2019 Corolla Hatchback. The Direct Shift-CVT uses a launch gear to improve off-the-line performance. The expectation was that the addition would lead to faster shifts and a 6 percent increase in fuel economy.

Late in 2018 a previous Toyota recall revealed that over 130,000 of its trucks and SUVs had faulty sensors, affecting seat belt tension and air bag functionality. At the time no plan was in place to resolve that issue, although Toyota announced in a press release that it was developing a solution and would notify owners by mid-February.

The Solution

Toyota dealers will replace the Direct Shift-CVT with a new one containing a new torque converter not affected by this issue at no cost to customers, starting as soon as the company has sufficient parts to make those repairs.

Owners can contact Toyota at 800-331-4331. Owners may also contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153), or go to www.safercar.gov.

Sean ReyesToyota Recalls Nearly 4,400 Corolla Hatchbacks Due to Major Transmission Issue

Fiat Chrysler Recalls 1.4 Million Vehicles Due to Takata Air Bags

Laguna Hills, Calif. – January 29, 2019 – Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) is recalling 1.4 million vehicles in the U.S. to have their Takata air bag inflators replaced. The action includes 2010-2015 Chrysler 300 sedans, 2010-2011 Dodge Dakota trucks, 2010-2014 Dodge Challenger coupes, 2011-2015 Dodge Charger sedans, 2010-2016 Jeep Wrangler SUVs, and 2010 Ram 3500, 4500 and 5500 trucks.

The Defect

According to Consumer Reports, the Takata air bag inflators use ammonium nitrate to inflate the air bag in the event of a crash. That compound has been found to become unstable over time, especially after exposure to temperature fluctuations and periods of constant high humidity. The instability can cause inflators to explode with violent force during an impact.

If a defective air bag ruptures, it can cause sharp metal fragments to fly outwards directly into the faces of the driver and passengers. This loose debris can significantly increase the risk of serious injury or death for all occupants of the vehicle.

Timeline of Events

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Takata recall is the largest and most complex automotive recall in U.S. history. It covers 50 million air bag inflators in 37 million cars, SUVs, and pickup trucks from 19 manufacturers. At least 15 drivers’ and passengers’ deaths – and more than 250 injuries – have been attributed to the devices.

The recall has been spaced out to allow manufacturers time to acquire and stock replacement parts. Since the degradation of the inflator material occurs over time, the recall addressed the oldest affected cars first as well as those located in areas of temperature fluctuation and high humidity. The recall notices have been since rolled out in phases on a predetermined schedule. The latest rollout includes the Fiat Chrysler vehicles, and these recalls will continue into 2020.

The Solution

FCA says it will let owners of affected vehicles know when they can schedule service. Dealers will replace the passenger-side front air bag inflator free of charge. Owners can contact FCA’s recall information center at 800-853-1403. Owners may also contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153), or go to www.safercar.gov.

Sean ReyesFiat Chrysler Recalls 1.4 Million Vehicles Due to Takata Air Bags

Volvo Recalls Nearly 220,000 Vehicles for Potential Fuel Line Leak and Fire Risk

 

Stockholm – January 28, 2019 – Volvo Cars, owned by China’s Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, is voluntarily recalling more than 200,000 vehicles due to a potential fuel line leak. The recall includes vehicles in various model ranges including the V90, XC60, XC90 and S60.

The Defect

According to AutoBlog, Volvo issued the recall after discovering an engineering issue that could potentially cause fuel leakage into the engine compartment over time. Certain vehicles may have small cracks inside one of the fuel lines in the engine compartment. These gaps can widen over time, and combined with a pressurized fuel system may lead to fuel leakage. Fuel in the engine compartment can increase the risk of engine fire.

Timeline of Events

According to Reuters, nearly 219,000 cars spanning 11 different models produced in 2015 and 2016 have been affected, and the highest number of impacted cars are in Sweden, the U.K. and Germany. Volvo said that there have been no reports alleging injuries or damages related to this issue, and that the recall is preventative.

The recall affects diesel-engine cars made between 2015 and 2016., with a potential 219,000 cars worldwide could be affected across the globe with over 30,000 located in the U.K.  The models affected by the potential fault include the V40, S60, V60 and the Cross Country variants of each of these vehicles as well as affecting the XC60, V70, S80 and XC90.

Previous Volvo recalls included the September 2018 recall of 2019 Volvo XC60 hybrid electric vehicles equipped with certain AeroVironment electric vehicle charging cords, due to the possibility of capacitor failure that could result in a shock hazard or a fire.

In November 2018 Volvo recalled certain vehicles for faulty software installed in the Vehicle Connectivity Module (VCM) which could cause the Telematics and Driver Support Systems to function improperly, preventing GPS from transmitting correct location information to emergency personnel.  GPS will not provide location information to emergency personnel in the event of an emergency.

The Solution

Volvo will contact vehicle owners to arrange a correction of the issue. Owners can check their VIN on the Volvo website to find if it is affected.  Owners may also contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153), or go to www.safercar.gov.

Sean ReyesVolvo Recalls Nearly 220,000 Vehicles for Potential Fuel Line Leak and Fire Risk

Subaru Impreza, BRZ and XV Crosstek valve spring recall update

 

Camden, New Jersey, Jan. 28, 2019 – In November 2018, Subaru of America issued a recall for 165,534 vehicles across the Impreza, BRZ and XV Crosstek models. The recall was brought on by engine springs that are prone to fracturing. In the event that these components break, the cars may make unnatural noises, or the engines may malfunction or stall. Recently, the Burlington Free Press revealed additional details of the recall, including the fact that some dealers may not be able to replace the part until late 2020.

The vehicles that potentially contain compromised value screws include the 2013 Subaru BRZ, the 2013 Subaru XV Crosstek and the 2012-2014 Subaru Impreza. Owners of these vehicles should have already received letters regarding the recall, which is how the Free Press determined how long the repair timeline will be in high-demand areas such as Vermont.

The Defect

Reacting to reports of compromised valve springs within vehicle engines, Subaru issued its recall for the cars in question. In addition to strange noises and other unspecified malfunctions, engine stalling may make it impossible for drivers to start their cars again. Subaru recommended in its letter to vehicle owners that if they experience noise or vibrations while driving, they pull over as soon as it is safely possible, to ensure they do not suffer the heightened collision risk that would come with stalling out.

Timeline of Events

The report from the Free Press brings more clarity to how long the recall will take to carry out. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration named the defect Nov. 1, 2018. When the first notice went out, there had been 11 reports of cars suffering from operational problems due to insufficiently strong springs in their engines. Letters went out to Subaru owners shortly thereafter instructing them to bring their vehicles into a dealership for repairs as soon as possible. When the Free Press’s reporter set a date to have her own Subaru repaired, the local dealership explained the earliest slot it has available is in November 2020.

Representatives from the dealership explained that due to the large number of Subarus on the roads of Vermont, as well as the time-consuming nature of the repairs and the need for specialized training, the timeline of repairs will stretch well into next year. Dealership personnel need to be briefed on the spring replacement operation. At the dealership in question, this tutorial is scheduled for February.

The Solution

In a 7-to-13-hour procedure, mechanics will replace the affected parts in affected vehicles. The procedure uses specialized tools. In addition to the relatively time-consuming nature of the work, as well as the limited number of tools present at each dealership, only one vehicle is serviced each day. This procedure explains the long wait time in areas such as Burlington.

In its recall notice, Subaru noted that if a vehicle stalls and cannot start again due to spring problems, owners should make arrangements to have the car towed to the nearest Subaru dealer. For vehicle owner reference, the recall’s number is 18V-772 in Subaru’s system and WTY-84 according to the NHTSA’s records.

Sean ReyesSubaru Impreza, BRZ and XV Crosstek valve spring recall update

Tesla Recalls Certain Model S Vehicles as Part of Takata Air Bag Recall

 

Laguna Hills, Calif. – January 27, 2019 – Tesla is recalling close to 14,000 Model S vehicles as part of the global Takata air bag recall. Affected vehicles are part of a worldwide recall that impacted millions of vehicles from different manufacturers. The recall involves Model S cars manufactured between February 2014 and December 2016, according to TechCrunch, but does not affect the Roadster, Model X, Model 3, or later Model S vehicles.

The Defect

The Takata air bag inflators in question contain a propellant material that can decompose over time, leading to risk of explosion on impact and flying shards of debris. The explosion of an air bag and resulting impact of debris could cause serious injury or death to a driver or passenger. The recall has been ongoing and is taking place worldwide.

Timeline of Events

According to Tesla, the company has been adhering to a schedule previously determined by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The recall of the front passenger air bags in 2012 Model S vehicles, which began in January 2017, has now been extended to 2013 Model S vehicles in January 2018, and is also being extended to 2014-2016 Model S vehicles in January 2019.

Tesla remedied nearly 90 percent of all affected 2012 and 2013 Model S vehicles within one year after announcing its recall, and is now moving on to address the 2014-2016 models. Tesla has stated that owners do not need to be concerned if they have not been contacted yet: There is a schedule set in place for notifications to keep repairs moving smoothly, and most vehicles are not in the range of danger yet, as the air bags only become dangerous after a certain amount of time has passed since their manufacture.

The Solution

Tesla is currently continuing to contact customers to complete their air bag replacements. Owners of 2012-2013 Model S vehicles who have not yet received this replacement should schedule a service appointment. For 2014-2016 Model S, replacement parts are expected to be available by the spring of 2019, and Tesla will contact owners when the parts are ready.

Tesla is encouraging the use of their Mobile Service for customers to have the airbag replaced in the convenience of their home, office or other location. Owners may also contact the NHTSA Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153), or go to www.safercar.gov.

Sean ReyesTesla Recalls Certain Model S Vehicles as Part of Takata Air Bag Recall