rebecca

Rebecca Rand is a freelance science and technology writer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. She drives a 2010 Toyota Yaris.

Ford recalls Econoline vans for burning hot engine covers

Dearborn, MI – January 20, 2021– Ford (NYSE:F) has recalled 29,344 full-size Econoline trucks and vans whose engine covers may get too hot and burn people sitting in the front seat. This Ford truck and van recall includes the 2021 Ford E-350 and E-450 models and concerns the Engine Cover (Dog House), part number F8UZ-1510312-BAA.

Recall summary  

Engine covers of the recalled vehicles sit between the front two seats and act as a center console. Due to design error, the vehicles were manufactured with ill-fitting insulation on the cover which does not extend all the way to the edges, allowing them to get very hot.  

Other Ford recalls

This is the third recall to affect these 2021 Ford trucks and vans. Read about prior Ford recalls, in February 2020 for inadequate amounts of axle lubricant and in March 2020 for wire harnesses that become damaged from chafing against the vehicle’s frame.

Risks

Drivers and front-seat passengers of these vans could burn themselves on the wall against the hot engine cover. Before that happens, they could notice the temperature of the edges of the engine cover – located near their feet – “gradually increase,” according to the recall notice.

Ford says it is not aware of any accidents or injuries caused by this issue to date.

The repair

Ford will notify owners about the recall between February 8 and 12, 2021. Dealers will inspect the engine cover for gaps between the rubber seal of the engine cover and the insulation, and will provide patches as needed. In some cases, they will also provide a powertrain calibration update to make sure the engine does not get too hot.

Is your vehicle part of this recall?

Nearly 30,000 vehicles are included in this E-350 Ford recall. To see if your car is one of them, use MotorSafety’s free vehicle lookup tool.

Rebecca RandFord recalls Econoline vans for burning hot engine covers

Tesla asked to recall Model X and S vehicles over potential loss of essential functions

Palo Alto, CA – January 19, 2021 – A U.S. government agency has asked Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) to recall 158,716 Model S and Model X cars over its faulty main display screens, also known as the media control units (MCU). Software issues may cause the screens to turn off, resulting in the driver losing access to essential safety-related  information.

The ask is not an order and gives Tesla the opportunity to conduct a voluntary recall before the agency pursues further action.

The letter and the loss of essential features

On January 13, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) sent a letter to Tesla asking it to recall 2012-2018 Tesla Model S sedans and 2016-2018 Tesla Model X SUVs. The move was precipitated by a NHTSA investigation sparked by several thousands of complaints submitted to both the manufacturer and NHTSA directly, alleging issues with the screens.

In conversations with NHTSA the automaker acknowledged that all of the main display screens  were expected to fail eventually because the flash memory devices – that power the screens – wear out after a certain number of on-off cycles.  NHTSA found that their useful life is about five to six years, which is “insufficient” from the safety standpoint.

When the screens crash, they rob the driver of access to vital safety features, like defrosting, defogging and the backup camera. Other essential features, such as “audible chimes” that alert drivers to changes in the vehicle, may also disappear.

‘Huge negligence on the part of Tesla’

A lawsuit alleging that the screens fail  “after only a few years of normal use” was filed in May of last year and included 2014-2016 Model S and 2015-2016 Model X. In response, In November, Tesla expanded warranties to cover this defect and swerve away from a recall.  

A complaint filed in late December by the owner of a 2012 Tesla Model S alleged that the car’s heater and defroster stopped working right after a Tesla service center supposedly resolved the touchscreen issue, resulting in limited visibility while driving in the rain. The driver called the issue “a huge negligence on the part of Tesla.

Safety concerns

NHTSA’s letter highlighted three main safety concerns that arise when the media control units in these Tesla vehicles crash.

Drivers cannot see the backup camera

New laws require cars built starting in May 2018 (and a certain percentage of cars starting in May 2016) must include a functioning backup camera. NHTSA asserts that if no backup camera feed is visible to the driver, the risk of a crash increases, “potentially causing injury or death.”

Drivers cannot control defogging or defrosting systems

These systems are considered essential to driver visibility. According to  NHTSA’s letter to Tesla, “the lack of a functioning windshield defogging and defrosting system may decrease the driver’s visibility in inclement weather, increasing the risk of crash.”

Drivers cannot hear alert chimes, such as turn signal “blinker sounds”

The car may no longer make clicking sounds that audibly remind the driver that the turn signal is engaged. Inability to receive these alerts compromises the safety of the driver and other motorists on the road.

Recent Tesla recalls

In November, Tesla Model X recall was launched for the 2016 model years because of pieces of the roof potentially flying off and striking other drivers.

Is your Model X or S affected?

It is possible that Tesla will recall these cars to resolve the MCU issue. At the moment, however, the number of potentially affected cars and the timeline of any corrective action are unknown. Bookmark MotorSafety’s free vehicle lookup tool to check if your car is affected when details surrounding this potential recall become available. 

Rebecca RandTesla asked to recall Model X and S vehicles over potential loss of essential functions

General Motors continues recall of heavy duty pickups with faulty seat belts

Warren, MI – January 5, 2021 – General Motors (NYSE:GM) is continuing  a recall of 38,048 heavy-duty trucks that were built with the driver- and front passenger-side seat belt parts meant for other cars. The recall includes the following pickup trucks:

  • 2017-2018 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 and 3500
  • 2017-2018 GMC Sierra 2500 and 3500

The name of the affected component is Retractor ASM-F/Seat Belt with part numbers 84253641, 84253686, 84234013 and 84234008.

Recall summary  

The recall concerns the seat belt torsion bars, which help the seat belt hold a passenger during a crash and protect him or her from an upper body injury. The bars a supplier of General Motors (GM) installed in these vehicle models in the seat belt retractors were the wrong size and had not gone through crash testing.  These bars are typically used in “other full-size trucks,” according to GM.

Continuation of the 2017 recall

This is a continuation of a recall that was originally announced in September 2017. A month after starting the original recall GM petitioned the auto industry regulator – the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) – to be released from going through with the recall, based on the belief that the different seat belt part would be “inconsequential” to safety. 

The regulator disagreed and denied GM’s petition in November 2020. Between fall of 2017 and spring of 2019, the automaker recalled and fixed over 10,000 cars.

Other Chevy Silverado recalls

A different model year of Chevy Silverado 2500 is subject to a recent recall launched on the back of faulty airbag end caps that may fly off and injure or distract the car occupants. 2020-2021 Silverado 2500 and 3500, as well as GMC Sierra 2500 and 3500 trucks, are involved in another seat belt recall, also as reported. The seat belts on these cars may similarly fail to protect the driver and passengers due to being loose.

Risks

A seat belt meant for another car may not work as expected. This can lead to an injury or death for the car’s  driver and passengers.

Read more about seat belt safety in this Chrysler seat belt recall article.

The repair

GM will replace the seat belt retractor with one with the correct size torsion bar, free of charge. GM began notifying owners on December 28, but the repair will not be available until after March 17. 

Is your vehicle part of this recall?

Over 38,000 vehicles are part of this GM recall. To see if your car is one of them, use MotorSafety’s free vehicle lookup tool.

Rebecca RandGeneral Motors continues recall of heavy duty pickups with faulty seat belts

Volkswagen recalls over 100,000 cars equipped with Takata airbag inflators

Auburn Hills, MI – January 4, 2020 – Volkswagen (OTCMKTS:VWAGY) has recalled 105,652 Beetles and Beetle convertibles whose driver-side Takata airbag inflators could explode, hitting the occupants of the vehicle with its potentially lethal metal fragments.

This is the latest in the series of widespread Takata airbag recalls. General Motors and Nissan recently announced their own recalls associated with these dangerous airbags.

This round of recalls involves the following model years:

  • 2012 Volkswagen Beetle compact cars, as well as the 2013 and 2014 models
  • 2012 Volkswagen Beetle convertibles, as well as the 2013 and 2014 models

Recall summary

Cars involved in this ever-growing Takata airbag recall were made with Takata inflators that may blow up during a crash and hurl metal fragments at the driver and passenger, injuring or killing them. 

The airbags on these Volkswagen Beetle convertible and compact cars are no exception, despite being made with a desiccant, or drying agent, that was designed to prevent moisture – which is one of the factors in the explosion – from getting into the airbags.  However, while the addition of the drying agent does help, it does not fully prevent these inflators from degrading, resulting in a high risk of an explosion. The risk becomes higher as the inflators age, according to a study submitted to the National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA) on behalf of the manufacturers involved in the Takata recall in 2019.

Volkswagen’s internal efforts failed to show that these airbags were dangerous. However, the manufacturer agreed to recall the cars “out of an abundance of caution.”

To read more about the background of the Takata airbag recall, please see the following article about a recent General Motors’ recall due to the same issue.

Risks

Exploding inflators pose a serious threat to the safety of car occupants. More than 25 people have been killed and at least 250 injured so far in the Takata airbag recall, which has turned into the biggest automotive recalls in U.S. history. 

The report provided by NHTSA to the public about the recall does not furnish any information about injuries associated with this particular Volkswagen recall.

Additional recalls

This is only the first round of Volkswagen recalls to replace desiccated Takata airbag inflators. The manufacturer has agreed to issue further recalls as vehicles age. The next recall, which will take place in 2023, will include 2015-2016 Volkswagen Beetles and Beetle convertibles. 2017-2019 Beetles and convertibles will be recalled in 2025, along with 2011-2014 Passats.

Repair

Volkswagen dealers will replace the airbag with one that does not contain ammonium nitrate. The repair is not yet available. Owners will be notified by mail starting February 12, 2021.

Is your vehicle part of this recall?

Over 100,000 vehicles are included in this Volkswagen recall. Use MotorSafety’s free lookup tool to see if your vehicle is affected. 

Rebecca RandVolkswagen recalls over 100,000 cars equipped with Takata airbag inflators

Subaru recalls 2020 Legacy and Outback cars for back-up camera glitch

Camden, NJ – December 29,  2020 – Subaru (OTCMKTS: FUJHY) has recalled 7,741 vehicles with a software issue that shuts off the backup camera display. The recall includes the 2020 Subaru Legacy mid-size vehicles and the 2020 Subaru Outback SUVs.

The affected component is the Cockpit Control Module (CCM) with part numbers 86201AN65A and 86271AN60A. The CCM includes the backup camera.

Recall summary  

These 2020 Subaru Outback and Legacy vehicles could lose their backup camera displays while in reverse due to a glitch that causes the computer to reboot every three minutes. 

The problem originated during a remote software update Subaru streamed to vehicles in August.  The installation process timed out and the data that was being transmitted was not transferred to the recalled vehicles. As a result, the CCM may repeatedly reboot, disabling the camera display for six seconds. 

Risks

No accidents or injuries relating to this issue have been reported, but, if rear view cameras are not functioning properly, there is a risk that drivers could run over or crash into people and objects behind them. 

To read about the Cameron Gulbransen Safety Act, which made backup cameras standard on all vehicles starting in 2018, and back-up crashes statistics,  please head to an article about a recent Ford recall due to the same issue.

The repair

Subaru dealers will reprogram vehicles affected by the recall. If a car’s backup camera display is not working, the dealer will replace the CCM with a new one. Owners will be notified by mail starting January 22.

Is your vehicle part of this recall?

Over 7,700 vehicles are included in this 2020 Subaru recall. To see if your car is one of them, use MotorSafety’s free vehicle lookup tool.

Rebecca RandSubaru recalls 2020 Legacy and Outback cars for back-up camera glitch

Honda recalls Accord and Insight cars for potential multi-component malfunction

Torrance, CA – December 24, 2020– Honda (NYSE: HMC) is recalling 737,233 Accord and Insight cars with a programming error that increases the risk of malfunction of various components of the car while driving, upping the risk of a crash and injury.  The recall includes:

  • 2018- 2020 Honda Accord sedans
  • 2018-2020 Honda Accord hybrids
  • 2019- 2020 Honda Insight hybrids

Recall summary  

Due to a supplier programming mistake, these Honda vehicles may experience a glitch that disrupts communication between the body control module (BCM)  and other parts of the car. As reported, the BCM is the “core” of the car that is in charge of many of its operations. For the part numbers involved, please refer to the National Highway Safety (NHTSA) administration documents.

Disrupted communication between the BCM and other components may cause various warning lights to come on and several “electrical components” to malfunction. Some of the examples of what can happen are listed below:

  • Rearview camera won’t work
  • Windshield wipers and defrosters fail to function
  • Car lights and turn signals won’t turn on
  • Trunk won’t open
  • Cruise control and lane keep assist lights will flash

Software issues

Software issues have prompted more than one Honda recall in 2020. In July, for example,  the Japanese manufacturer recalled Odyssey minivans, Passport and Pilot SUVs because of “a programming glitch” that caused cars’ instruments panels to suddenly power off,  “depriving drivers of vital information,” such as the speed of the vehicle.

Risks

Malfunction of various components of the car can seriously increase the risk of a crash, especially while driving. Warning lights that come without reason can distract the driver and cause him to take actions that may also augment the risk of a crash or injury for the car occupants, as well as other motorists and pedestrians.

The repair

The recall is scheduled to begin on January 18, 2021. The repair will be a software update but it is not clear when it is going to be available.

Is your vehicle part of this recall?

Over 730,000 vehicles are included in this Honda  recall. To see if your car is one of them, use MotorSafety’s free vehicle lookup tool.

Rebecca RandHonda recalls Accord and Insight cars for potential multi-component malfunction

Honda recalls 210,000 cars over risk drive shaft will snap

Torrance, CA – December 23, 2020 – Honda (NYSE: HMC) is recalling 210,000 vehicles in the so-called “salt belt” whose drive shafts – which transfers power to the wheels – may become corroded and break. This could cause the vehicle to stall or roll away when parked.  The recall includes:

  • 2013 – 2015 Acura ILX cars
  • 2013 Acura ILX hybrids
  • 2012 Honda Civic hybrids
  • 2007 – 2008 Honda Fits

Recall summary

This recall is one of two Honda has issued for vehicles that were sold or registered in the 22 states that use salt to de-ice roads in the winter. Salt can be very corrosive to vehicles’ undersides

The recalled vehicles’ drive shafts are supposed to have a protective coating, but due to a manufacturing error, the coating may not stick to the metal and could peel or chip off. Left unprotected, road salt can eat away at the drive shaft and cause it to break. As a result, the vehicle may stall or roll away when parked

Other ‘salty’ recalls

Salt was also the culprit of a recent Ford recall of its 2013-2017 Explorer SUVs. In that case, the substance corroded the bottom of the vehicles and caused their toe links – which form part of the and ensure that the cars go in the right direction – to snap. In May of last year, Mazda also pulled close to 50,000 cars off the market to replace faulty parts that could result in a loss of power steering. The recall also came about because of corrosion caused by road salt.

Safety risks

Stalling, especially on the freeway, can increase the risk of a rear-end crash. Vehicles with a broken drive shaft could also roll away if parked on a slope without engaging the emergency brake.

As of November 24, 2020, 152 owners have sent Honda warranty claims relating to this issue. Honda has received 10 additional reports of drive shaft breakage, but none describe any accidents or injuries.

Read more about what to do if your vehicle stalls here.

Repair

Repair parts are not yet available for all the recalled vehicles. Owners will have to wait until February 1 to find out more about how to get this defect fixed. When a repair does become available, it will be performed by a Honda dealer for free. Honda will reimburse owners who have already repaired corroded drive shafts.

Is your vehicle part of this recall?

Over 200,000 cars are included in this Honda recall. To see if your car is one of them, use MotorSafety’s free vehicle lookup tool to check your car for open recalls.

Rebecca RandHonda recalls 210,000 cars over risk drive shaft will snap

Volkswagen recalls Audi Sportbacks for faulty wiring

Auburn Hills, MI – December 21, 2020– Volkswagen (OTCMKTS:VWAGY) has recalled 5,426 Audi Sportbacks whose wiring may become damaged in a crash, preventing the doors from being opened from the outside. Hazard lights may also fail, increasing the risk of an injury and death to the occupants of the vehicle.

The recall includes:

  • 2020-2021 Audi A5 Sportbacks
  • 2021 Audi RS5 Sportbacks
  • 2020-2021 Audi S5  Sportbacks

Recall summary  

The recall concerns the wires in the rear of the car that control the rear lights and supply power to parts of the car. Due to a supplier error, these wires were not built with scuff protection and may become damaged in the event of a crash.

Safety concerns

The damage – that could occur during a rear crash at 50 miles per hour – could affect the vehicle’s power supply, making it impossible to turn on the hazard lights or open the car doors from the outside. Both of these problems increase the risk of injury in the case of a crash. Hazard lights serve to warn approaching drivers of a stopped or a slowed car, preventing rear-end crashes.

Inability to open doors from the outside may result in the death or injury of the driver and passengers, especially if they are incapacitated and the car is burning.

The repair

Audi will notify owners of the recall by Jan 22, 2021. As a free fix for this Audi Volkswagen problem, dealers will apply adhesive tape to protect the wires.  This repair is not yet available.

Is your vehicle part of this recall?

Over 5,000 vehicles are included in this Volkswagen recall. To see if your car is one of them, use MotorSafety’s free vehicle lookup tool.

Rebecca RandVolkswagen recalls Audi Sportbacks for faulty wiring

Nissan recalls nearly 4,000 Sentras equipped with Takata airbags

Franklin, TN – December 18, 2020 – Nissan (OTCMKTS: NSANY) has recalled 3,930 Sentra compact cars built with Takata airbag inflators which could explode and injure or kill the occupants of the vehicle with “sharp metal fragments.” So far the infamous recall – that has encompassed multiple manufacturers and is the largest one in history – has seen 27 fatalities and at least 250 injuries.

This latest round includes 2002-2006 Nissan Sentra cars and concerns the front passenger airbag (part #985614Z60A).

Recall summary

This recall serves to correct a prior Nissan recall of Takata airbags conducted in 2015.

During that recall, dealers misidentified the types of airbag inflators on some of the recalled vehicles. As a result, these dangerous airbags were not removed. 

According to recall documents, such an error resulted in an injury in 2018, when a misidentified airbag’s inflator exploded, prompting an investigation by the automaker.

Continuing history of recalls

Automakers have been issuing ever-expanding recalls of Takata airbags for seven years, with 100 million inflators recalled worldwide. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has overseen the removal of approximately 63 million Takata airbag inflators in the US, including a recently ordered recall of 5.9 million General Motors vehicles equipped with them.

Read more about what’s wrong with Takata airbags here.

Repair

Nissan dealers will inspect and replace the airbag, if necessary, with one manufactured by a different supplier. Owners will be notified by mail starting Jan 5, 2021, but parts are already available. Nissan is recommending that owners do not allow passengers to sit in the front passenger seat until the car has been serviced. 

If you are uncomfortable driving your recalled Sentra, Nissan will pay to have the vehicle towed to the dealer. Customers may request this by calling Consumer Affairs at 1 (888) 737-9511.

Is your vehicle part of this recall?

Nearly 4,000 vehicles are included in this Nissan Takata Airbag recall. Use MotorSafety’s free lookup tool to see if your vehicle is affected. 

Rebecca RandNissan recalls nearly 4,000 Sentras equipped with Takata airbags

Hyundai recalls over 120,000 cars over faulty engines that may catch fire

Fountain Valley, CA – December 16, 2020 – Hyundai (OTCMKTS: HYMTF) is recalling 128,948 cars because connecting rod bearings inside the engine may wear down and cause engine damage, increasing the risk of stalls or fires. The recall includes:

  • 2012 Hyundai Santa Fe SUVs
  • 2011-2013 and 2016 Hyundai Sonata hybrid cars
  • 2015-2016 Hyundai Veloster hatchbacks

Recall summary

The recall concerns the vehicles’ engine rod bearings, which help reduce friction between two moving parts in the engine. These cars’ bearings could become worn, which could damage the engine. The damage may even cause the engine rod to snap and the vehicle to stall.

Separately, engines in these recalled cars can catch fire after being punctured by the rod.

High rates of fires

The recall comes a week after NHTSA issued Hyundai a consent order requiring them to clean up their act in regards to safety, by developing better resources, tools, and practices for catching vehicle safety problems early. The consent order was the result of a three-year probe into Hyundai’s behavior regarding recalls of 2011 model year vehicles.

NHTSA is disciplining Hyundai for moving too slowly to recall vehicles with engine issues and high rates of fires, and for reporting inaccurate information to NHTSA regarding the recalls. According to the consent order, Hyundai must create a US safety office, develop better data analytics programs to detect safety issues, and build a new safety testing facility in the US.

Safety concerns

Stalling and fires are both significant safety issues. Owners of recalled cars should watch out for abnormal knocking noises from the engine, reduced engine power or hesitation, the check engine light, the oil pressure light, a burning smell, a visible oil leak, and smoke, which all may be signs of trouble with the rod bearings.

For tips on what to do if your vehicle catches fire, please see the following page.

Repair

This Hyundai engine recall is set to start in late January of next year. Dealers will inspect the engine  for any damage to the rod bearings. If it is damaged, the whole engine will be replaced. Hyundai will also be installing a software update designed to detect engine issues.

Is your vehicle affected by this recall?

Nearly 130,000 cars are included in this Hyundai motors recall. To see if your car is one of them, use MotorSafety’s free vehicle lookup tool.

Rebecca RandHyundai recalls over 120,000 cars over faulty engines that may catch fire