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.
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.
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.
Ford Motor Company issued a recall in North America for select 2012 to 2018 Ford Focus vehicles equipped with 2.0-liter GDI and 2.0liter GTDI engines for a malfunctioning canister purge valve. These affected vehicles are equipped with a canister purge valve that may become stuck in an open position. If this occurs, an excessive vacuum in the fuel system could cause deformation of the vehicle's plastic fuel tank. As a result, the customer could observe a malfunction indicator light or a fuel gauge with fluctuating or inaccurate fuel levels. This could lead to a stall while driving and/or an inability to restart the vehicle, which can increase the risk of a crash.
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.
On Thursday, September 6, 2018, media outlets carried the announcement of a massive recall of Ford F-150 pickup trucks. About 2,000,000 trucks are involved, approximately 1,619,000 of which are in the United States. The recall affects model years 2015-2018, and stems from reports that a defect in the seatbelt system could cause a fire.
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.