Car recalls occur all too often. In many cases, the recalls are issued or initiated by the National Highway Safety Traffic Administration (NHTSA). Many times, the car manufacturers initiate their own recalls or issue recalls after an NHTSA investigation. Cars are usually recalled due to reports of deaths, injuries, or defective parts. Victims of fatal accidents and car crashes have the right to file wrongful death claims and product liability claims against the manufacturers who place profit ahead of the safety of the public.
A few recent investigations and recalls of note were announced by Car and Driver Magazine. We wanted to review a few of them today so that you would have the information you need in case you already own one of these vehicles, or were thinking of purchasing one.
Investigation of Honda Accord steering problems
The NHTSA, according to a report by Reuters, is investigating more than 100 complaints that claim 2012-2015 Honda Accords have diminished steering control. Two injuries have also been reported. An initial October 2020 petition stated that an owner of one Honda Accord “experienced deviation from the intended path of travel without warning or driver input.” The owner added “my vehicle repeatedly turned 90 degrees of its own violation. Honda dealership mechanics were able to replicate the steering deviation.
The NHTSA’s Office of Defects Investigation will be conducting an engineering study of the vehicles which will cover more than 1.1 million Accord vehicles. The investigation is not yet a formal recall. Honda has stated that it will cooperate with the NHTSA. The NHTSA started the investigation on May 5, 2021.
Hyundai vehicles included in a recent NHTSA fire recall list
The NHTSA announced three recalls involving 100,000 Hyundai vehicles. The recalls were issued because of concerns that the vehicles can catch fire while they are parked. No actual fires due to the underlying problems have been reported in the US. Several fires have been reported abroad. The vehicles affected by the recall include:
95,000 Hyundai Genesis (2015-2016 models), Genesis G70 (2019-2020 models), and G80 (2017-2020 models) gasoline-powered cars. The recalls are due to problems in the anti-lock-brake systems (ABS). The ABS could malfunction which could cause an electrical short which could, in time, cause an “engine compartment fire.” The malfunction could happen while the vehicles are in motion or while they are parked.
Buyers of these vehicles will be able to have their local dealer make repairs for free. The repair requires that the ABS module fuse be replaced with a fuse that has a lower amperage. Until the repairs are made, the NHTSA recommends that the vehicles shouldn’t be parked in or near buildings.
Nearly 5,000 Hyundai Kona and Hyundai Ioniq models. The problems are due to a lithium-ion battery short circuit. Just two Ioniq vehicles are affected. 4694 of the Kona vehicles are affected.
The danger is the same as for the Genesis vehicles – that the car can catch fire while “parked, charging and/or driving.” The cause is not the same. The problem with the electric vehicles is due to the risk of an electrical short failure in the lithium-ion battery cells. “The cells come from LG Energy Solutions and it turns out the anode tab in the battery cell could be folded. If there is a fold, the lithium plating on the tab might be able to touch the cathode, which would result in a short and, again, a potential fire.”
A temporary repair for these two electronic cars is for the owners to go to their local dealer who will lower the battery’s “state of charge limit.” Owners will also, according to the NHTSA, be able to obtain instructions to lower the limit themselves using their “infotainment system.” The long-term solution will be to install a “remedy battery.” Owners shouldn’t park their vehicles near buildings.
Tesla recalls 135,000 vehicles due to a defective display
Car and Driver reported that Tesla announced a recall of 134,951 of its 2016–2018 Model X SUVs and 2012–2018 Model S vehicles. The recall was issued because of a defective infotainment system media control unit (MCU). The MCU can fail causing the screen to fail to show the images from the rearview camera. The driver will also “lose the ability to control the climate control system” and the exterior turn signals. The MCU can fail because the infotainment systems processor can wear out.
The remedy is to replace the MCU with another MCU that has a longer life span. Tesla will also reimburse any owner who replaced MCU on their own.
The recall was due to an initial letter by the NHTSA to Tesla requesting that they recall the covered vehicles. Normally, car companies initiate their own recall voluntarily instead of waiting for the NHTSA to make a formal request.
Tesla initially said, in a filing with NHTSA, that for drivers who experience these problems, “the driver can perform a shoulder check and use the mirrors” when the rearview camera doesn’t work, and “will be able to manually clear the windshield” when the climate control settings don’t work.” The car manufacturer stated that it wasn’t aware of any accidents or injuries due to the MCU failure.
The NHTSA, using data supplied by Tesla, found that the MCU failure rate “was as high as 17.3 percent for the 2012–2015 Model S and up to 4.1 percent for the 2016–2018 Model X and Model S. Nonetheless, the agency noted that “Tesla provided confirmation that all units will inevitably fail.”
Car owners can check the NHTSA recall website for the latest recall information.
At Plattner Verderame, P.C., our Phoenix car crash lawyers hold manufacturers, distributors, and sellers liable if defective car parts cause a death or personal injuries. We work with product safety experts and engineers to show the vehicle design was defective, the workmanship was defective, or the instructions on usage were defective. We file wrongful death claims if defective steering, ABS systems, or other defects tragically take the life of a loved one. We file personal injury claims if the product defect causes a traumatic brain injury, spinal cord damage, burns, broken bones, or any other injuries. To speak with a caring premier car accident lawyer, please call us at 602.266.2002 or complete our contact form. We have offices in Phoenix and Tempe.
Nick is a member of the State Bar of Arizona, the Arizona Association for Justice (formerly the Arizona Trial Lawyers Association) and the American Association for Justice (AAJ). He currently serves on the AAJ’s Political Action Task Force and its Oversight Committee, and on the Board of Governors for Revitalization in Arizona.
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