Fiat Chrysler’s loose brand emblem may impale drivers, passengers in a collision

Pleasanton, CA – July 7, 2020 – Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) (NYSE:FCAU) is recalling 925,239 vehicles because of a loose or a missing brand emblem that may be flung at the drivers and passengers during a crash, potentially causing serious injury. The recall includes:

  • 2008-2010 Chrysler Town & Country
  • 2008-2010 Dodge Grand Caravan
  • 2007-2011 Dodge Nitro

Recall summary

The plastic brand emblem on the steering wheel, as well as the nuts securing it, form part of the airbag cover. As a result of a design flaw, these components may detach and injure the driver and passengers, especially if the driver airbag deploys  during a crash.

Safety risks

There are 14 known injuries caused by this defect. One report filed in 2013 with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) describes how one man received a “huge laceration” from a Dodge emblem that was flung into his forearm during a crash. “It could have knocked out his eye, entered his heart or even slashed his throat,” his spouse said in the report. Another near miss was reported in 2011, when an Oregon driver noticed, after a crash, that the emblem on her 2007 Dodge Nitro had shot off the steering wheel when the airbags went off and ended up in the passenger-side door. The driver was concerned with how forcefully the emblem had flown off the wheel.

Airbags deploy at speeds between 100 and 200 miles per hour within 30 to 50 milliseconds. Additionally, “objects in the path of a deploying airbag can become injurious, potentially lethal projectiles.” Even without the boost of an airbag, any loose object in a crashing vehicle can impale an occupant at close to the speed the vehicle was going before it crashed. For example, in 2015, surgeons in Rhode Island found a dime lodged in a crash victim’s leg. It had passed through his femur. The dime was bent.

Repair

FCA intends to replace the driver airbag cover on all affected vehicles. Replacements are set to be available by September. In the meantime, FCA has offered to remove emblems from the airbag cover as an “interim repair.” 

Is your vehicle part of this recall?

Over 900,000 cars are included in this Fiat Chrysler recall. To see if your car is one of them, use MotorSafety’s free vehicle lookup tool to check your car for open recalls.

Nate GouldsbroughFiat Chrysler’s loose brand emblem may impale drivers, passengers in a collision

Ford recalls another round of F-150s due to front brake failure

Pleasanton, CA – July 6, 2020 – Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F) has announced a recall of certain 2014-2017 Ford F-150 pickup trucks  equipped with 3.5-liter Ecoboost engines. 

Recall summary

In May 2016, Ford recalled 225,012 F-150s for leaking brake fluid resulting in front brake failure. On June 8 of this year,  after a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) investigation, the company expanded the recall to the 2014-2017 models because of the same issue.  In some cases – depending on the model – drivers would hear “an audible chime” or see the “brake warning indicator” come on.  In others, however, the brakes would fail without any warning. Losing the front braking power can increase the distance it takes to stop a moving vehicle, which increases the risk of a crash. 

A harrowing experience for drivers

There are 286 Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) reports from the NHTSA detailing drivers’ experiences with Ford brake failure. Ford says it knows of seven accidents and two injuries that have resulted from this defect. Dozens more near-misses populate the NHTSA list of complaints linked to F-150s with leaky brake master cylinders.

Many of the incidents began with a driver pressing down on the brake pedal, only to have it go all the way to the floor with no resistance as the car barreled ahead, slowing very little or not at all. “I was convinced someone had tampered with my brakes and they were trying to kill me!” one Ford driver reported.

Another driver’s report states their warning light came on shortly before the brakes failed. The driver told their family to hold on. “As they were screaming in fear I stepped on the emergency [brake] and down-shifted to first,” the driver wrote in their complaint. “We are lucky I knew what to do. Another family may not be so lucky.”

What to do if your brakes fail 

According to Ford, in a situation where a leak disables the front wheel brakes,  the rear brakes would still function. But losing half a car’s braking power can still feel like the vehicle is out of control.

If a vehicle’s brakes partially fail, drivers should:

  • Maintain composure and turn on hazard lights.
  • Attempt to slow down by either shifting to a lower gear (for a manual transmission) or taking the foot off the gas (for an automatic car).
  • Pump the brakes.
  • If pumping the brakes does not work, slowly engage the parking (emergency) brake. 
  • Look for a safe place to pull off. This may be an open area to steer into, or an uphill road to turn onto.
  • As a last resort, if the vehicle will not stop, turn the ignition “OFF”. Do not turn it to “LOCK,” which will lock up the steering wheel. 

The repair

Ford owners can take their recalled F-150s to a Ford or Lincoln dealer to replace the brake master cylinder and the brake booster, if needed. According to the NHTSA, repairs due to a recall will come free of charge, if no more than 10 years passed from the vehicle purchase date.

Owners who paid to repair this defect before the recall may be reimbursed, but the deadline for reimbursement is July 17

Is your vehicle part of this recall?

Nearly 300,000 cars are included in this Ford F-150 recall. Check your car’s recall status using MotorSafety’s free vehicle lookup tool.

Joe GlaserFord recalls another round of F-150s due to front brake failure