Last month, the family of a deceased California man filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Tesla when the vehicle's self-driving systems failed to detect a concrete median, causing the vehicle to accelerate into the barrier. This incident is just one of many cases involving victims injured due to self-driving or "autonomous vehicles."
On July 30th 2018, owners of 2013-2016 Fusion sedans and 2013-2014 Escape SUVs were notified by Ford about a transmission system defect that posed a rollaway risk. The defect resulted in 550,000 vehicles across North America to be recalled. Now almost a year later, Ford recalls another 270,000 vehicles, specifically the 2013-2016 Ford Fusion cars equipped with a 2.5-liter engine, over the same issue of faulty shifter cable bushings and urges owners to use the parking brake until the defect has been repaired.
When GM installed engine block heaters in some of their trucks, they did not foresee the potential increased fire hazards as a result of this intended convenience. The engine block heaters were designed to warm the engine to allow for easier starting in very cold weather. This is allowed by plugging the engine block heaters into an external power outlet. However, recent reports have shown that the cord and block heater may short circuit resulting in a potential fire.
Volkswagen is under scrutiny again as they have recently announced another recall of over 56,000 cars and SUVs in the U.S. This time, the culprit appears to be the rear coil spring that can break without warning and cause a driver to lose control of his or her vehicle. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the broken spring poses a threat that can cause damage to the tire or become a road hazard. The NHTSA attributes the defect to the parts maker applying the wrong type of material or manufacturing process in the creation of the springs.
Honda announced their recall of 1.2 million Honda and Acura vehicles due to defective Takata airbags on the driver's side. The Takata airbags were once thought to be safe, and even replaced older inflators under a recall that began in 2014. The airbags only recently came under scrutiny after an automobile accident and airbag explosion in Maryland injured the driver of a Honda Odyssey. The U.S. National Highway Safety Administration's (NHTSA's) investigation involving the 2004 Honda Odyssey discovered that the driver's airbag inflator ruptured.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that more people are killed in motor vehicle accidents due to faulty tires than in accidents caused by distracted driving. The NHTSA reports that 738 people died in 2017 from accidents caused by tire-related issues. Compare that to deaths caused by cellphone-related accidents, which has never exceeded 500 people for any year the NHTSA has collected such data. The NHTSA recommends having your tires checked annually. Clearly, ensuring that the tires on our vehicles are in good condition is something we should all take the time to do.
Ford has recalled close to one million vehicles around the world to replace defective Takata airbag inflators. The Detroit Free Press reports that the vehicles have been recalled due to a risk of flying shrapnel caused by exploding airbag inflators. Takata used the chemical, ammonium nitrate, to create an explosion to inflate airbags. However, it can deteriorate over time due to heat and humidity. When the ammonium nitrate has deteriorated, it will explode with too much force and blow apart the metal canister designed to contain the explosion. Hundreds of people have been injured by the shrapnel from these airbags and at least twenty-three people have been killed worldwide.
The operators of a limousine that crashed and killed 20 people in New York were grossly negligent in putting the "dangerous and defective" vehicle on the road, according to the lawsuit filed by one of the victim's parents.
Tesla Inc. has resolved the claims of six plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit filed against the company in California. The lawsuit was initially filed in December 2016 in the United States District Court for the Central District of California. According to the complaint, the Tesla Model X owner slowly pulled into his driveway and waited for his garage door to open when his vehicle suddenly sped forward and crashed through the interior wall of his garage before coming to rest in his living room. Both the driver and his passenger sustained injuries. The complaint asserts numerous causes of action against the manufacturer, including products liability claims, breach of warranty claims, negligence, and violations of several consumer protection laws. The lead plaintiff also sought class action status citing several other instances of sudden acceleration in Tesla's vehicles.
The Japanese automaker, Toyota, announced that it will recall more than 2.4 million hybrid cars over a defect that could cause crashes. This recall comes in the wake of another recall made by Toyota in September 2018 that recalled more than one million hybrid cars globally after uncovering a technical problem that could cause fires. The Japanese car giant Toyota has sold more than 12 million hybrid gasoline-electric vehicles globally, including the Prius, since 1997.