Nearly every major holiday is heralded by a slew of news articles warning about the increased dangers on the roadways during the upcoming festivities, and Labor Day is no different. Texas Department of Transportation statistics showed Labor Day weekend ranked fourth among major 2017 holiday weekends in number of deadly crashes and number of fatalities from car accidents (Thanksgiving weekend ranked third, but it also counts data for a longer weekend). These spikes are mostly attributed to increased alcohol consumption, and staying off the road is the most reliable way to avoid drunk drivers. But while you're planning a safe holiday, spend a few extra minutes tackling a vehicle safety issue that could affect you any time of the year: mechanical failures.
Car safety recalls can be an inconvenience, especially when you have to take time out of your busy schedule to get it fixed. But, in more serious instances it can lead to accidents and injuries. Sometimes the issues prove fatal. Vehicle recalls in the U.S. have soared in recent years. A record number of recalls in 2016 reached 53.2 million, and the previous all-time high of 51.1 million was set in 2015. The surge in traffic deaths have jumped dramatically.
Audi has issued recalls over issues in their vehicles that are affecting over half a million cars. One problem surrounding six different model Audis involves coolant pump failure, where the pump could be blocked and cause fires in the engine compartment. The models affected on this issue are from the recent 2015 and 2016 models, including the popular sedans, coupes, and allroad wagons. Audi was reported saying this issue can and will be fixed with a software update, with that update programmed to shut off the power supply to the coolant pump if it becomes blocked.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has opened a formal engineering analysis investigation into airbags made by ARC Automotive after the company's airbags were linked to the death of a Canadian driver last month. The fatality in Canada was due to the driver's Hyundai Elantra's airbag inflator exploding as a result of a low impact collision. This death was the first known fatality in recent years from a rupture in an airbag manufactured by a supplier other than Takata. Previous non-fatal incidents involving ARC airbags in 2009 and 2014 sparked preliminary investigations into whether the airbags should be the subject of a product recall.
Toyota, the world's largest automaker, continues to suffer design problems with its vehicles. A few years ago, Toyota found itself embroiled in a public relations nightmare when its cars began experiencing unintended acceleration. As a result, Toyota issued a massive recall.
Just this month, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) officially announced a recall that will affect approximately 250,000 vehicles. The recall stems from a defect in the driver's door module that allows water to come into contact with the circuit board. If the circuit board is compromised with water and shorts out, the power door locks and power windows will cease to function. More importantly, the defect can also lead to overheating, which in turn could melt components of the door module, producing odor, smoke, and/or a potential fire. The NHTSA investigation into this defect has determined that there have been 28 such fires reported to the governmental agency since February of this year.
Last week, Ford Motor Company recalled thousands of its 2013 Escape models for a hazardous risk of fire. Ford recently filed documents with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) indicating that the cause of the recall was due to defective fuel lines that resulted from a manufacturing defect at a supplier's plant. Ford's part maker, TI Automotive, apparently has a flaw in its manufacturing process at its plant in Ashley, Indiana. The fuel lines manufactured by TI Automotive are incorporated into Ford's Escape models at Ford's assembly plant. The recall specifically concerns 2013 Ford Escape models with the 1.6-liter engine.
According to ABC News, various models of Jeeps are designed in a way that could be fatally dangerous in the event of a rear-end accident. The fuel tank is located behind the rear axle, and if the vehicle is rear ended the axle could puncture the fuel tank. This rupture can cause deadly fires. It has been reported that 15 people have burned to death as a result of rear-impact crashes.