Subaru Recalls Forester Vehicles Due to Air Bag Risk

Laguna Hills, CA – Oct. 14, 2019 – Subaru of America has announced the recall of more than 366,000 Forester vehicles equipped with heated seats, due to a defect that could potentially deactivate the front passenger air bag.

An indicator acknowledging the loss of the air bag’s function will illuminate if deactivation occurs, so hopefully drivers will be fully aware if their vehicle is affected. However, the problem still brings with it an increased possibility of injury for the individual in the passenger seat, thus necessitating the field action.

The Defect

Documents describing the defect note that it applies to certain 2015-2018 Subaru Forester vehicles, and is caused by electrical issues.

“Over time, due to a decrease in contact pressure between terminals in the occupant detection system (ODS) sensor mat harness, a temporarily unstable electrical connection may be possible,” Subaru’s safety recall report describing the defect pointed out. “If the connection is temporarily unstable, the ODS may not properly determine the status of a front right seat occupant.”

Because the sensor cannot ascertain whether or not the front right seat is occupied, it may fail to activate the air bag.

Timeline of Events

Subaru’s own chronology report regarding the defect goes back more than three years, as the issue first surfaced in April 2016. At that time, the manufacturer received its first field report related to the ODS sensor issue, which described the condition as it affected a 2016 Forester vehicle. Further reports of the same issue continued to find their way to the automaker throughout much of 2017, although no root cause could be determined by either Subaru or its supplier.

By September 2018, it had ultimately been determined that “other factors could cause connection instability, such as harness connectors and/or harness routing,” which led to a crucial update of the manufacturing process. Roughly one year later, Subaru finally concluded that the root cause of the failure was the unstable electrical connection described above.

The manufacturer was able to decide the scope of the recall by comparing vehicle production information, results of their own investigation, and field reports describing specific vehicles that contained the defect. Of the 366,282 vehicles currently reported to be included within the recall, Subaru estimates that roughly 10% of them contain the defect. 

The Solution

“Subaru will notify owners, and dealers will inspect and, as necessary, replace the ODS sensor mat harness, free of charge,” stated an official letter that Subaru filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Dealers have already been notified of the field action, and owners of vehicles affected by the recall will themselves be fully informed by the end of November. However, the parts being used for the repair are not currently available, so owners will be contacted once again, at a later date, when they can actually bring their vehicle in for the remedy to be implemented at no cost.

For information on other vehicle recalls involving Subaru and other major automobile manufacturers, visit MotorSafety.org

Sean ReyesSubaru Recalls Forester Vehicles Due to Air Bag Risk

Volvo Recalls 2018-19 XC60 and S90 Vehicles For Front Seat Defect

 

Laguna Hills, CA – April 5, 2019 – Volvo Car USA is recalling certain 2018-2019 XC60 and S90 vehicles. The rear flange nuts on the driver and passenger front seat rail may not have been installed during assembly. If a crash were to happen, the missing nuts could affect the front seat structure and position, increasing the chance of injury. As many as 2,297 vehicles may be involved.

The Defect

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration report on this problem, because of potentially missing flange nuts, the front driver and passenger seats may move during a crash, increasing the risk of injury to front-seat occupants. Installation of the flange nuts may have been omitted as the result of an error during the supplier’s assembly process, compromising the front seat’s structure and position.

Timeline of Events

Volvo received information from its supplier March 4, 2019, indicating issues in their production during a certain period of time meant the quality of delivered components could not be guaranteed. A review was initiated immediately and the potential issue went to the Critical Concern Management Team (CCMT), which began an internal investigation March 6. This led to the CCMT identifying the issue as critical. Consequently, based on its internal analysis and supplier documents, Volvo decided March 20 to institute a worldwide recall of all affected vehicles.

The Solution

The recall will begin May 17, 2019. Volvo will notify owners, and dealers will inspect the front seat rails for missing flange nuts, installing them as necessary, free of charge to car owners. In addition, the supplier process has been updated and improved.

Owners may contact Volvo customer service at 1-800-458-1552. Volvo’s number for this recall is R19931. 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 19V220000.

Sean ReyesVolvo Recalls 2018-19 XC60 and S90 Vehicles For Front Seat Defect

The road ahead for automotive recall legislation

Automotive recall legislation has been largely consistent for years, but things might be moving in a different direction. From the impact that technology is having on every single portion of the automotive industry, to the changing face of the government, a lot is yet to be decided with respect to the fate of laws and regulations that govern recalls and protect citizens.
One of the biggest currently impending changes has to do with self-driving cars, which is raising some questions with respect to the potential leader of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
New face of the NHTSA?
The Detroit News recently reported that Heidi King, President Donald Trump’s nominee for the NHTSA top position, was grilled about the Takata airbag issue in her nomination hearing in front of the U.S. Senate. This particular hearing was overseen by the U.S. Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, with members asking King why the recall of those airbags was so messy.
King has been the NHTSA’s deputy administrator for months, and was put in charge of handling that particular recall, the publication noted. At the same time, there is no clear sign that the issue has been entirely resolved.
“A report done by the minority staff on this committee issued just last Friday shows that there are still 1.3 million vehicles out there with those defective Takata air bags, which is nothing more than a ticking time bomb,” Florida Senator Bill Nelson stated at the hearing, according to The Detroit News. “Just in the state of Florida, three people are dead. Eighty-three people are injured. And that’s just one state.”
King told the committee that she is working with each automotive manufacturer to resolve this issue in a more strategic and concerted fashion. At the time of this article, King has still not been admitted into the position, but no matter who emerges as the leader, changes are sure to come.
The driverless car dilemma
Autonomous vehicles are increasingly popular and have made headlines of late for their involvement in crashes. As such, whoever is ultimately in control of the NHTSA will need to oversee relatively massive overhauls to legislation to ensure that consumers are protected, especially when various parts are defective.
For example, Wired reported the car crash that ended in a fatality involving a Tesla occurred when the car’s “autopilot” feature was turned on. Other crashes involving Uber, Google and other players in the space have increased concerns. Although investigations are still taking place in all of these cases, companies themselves have taken somewhat drastic measures to eliminate the risk of another deadly or harmful accident.
At the same time, self-driving car dangers and problems have been largely overseen by their various manufacturers rather than hard-and-fast legislative frameworks. Considering that these automobiles are expected to take off far more quickly in the coming years, modernized legislation, especially recall protocols and rules, may need to be prioritized going forward.
Sean ReyesThe road ahead for automotive recall legislation