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In December 2019, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration ( NHTSA) received a petition that requested an investigation into alleged sudden unintended acceleration (SUA) in certain 2017-2019 Tesla Model 3, 2013-2019 Tesla Model S and 2016-2019 Tesla Model X vehicles. The petition cited 127 consumer complaints including 110 crashes and 52 injuries.
On January 13, 2020, the NHTSA’s Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) opened a Defect Petition (DP20-001) to assess the request. The investigation included reviews of all complaints and supporting information, as well as an additional 14 complaints that were either not included in the petition or were submitted after the petitioner’s submission. The review also included analyses of available crash data (EDR, Tesla log data, and/or video data) the NHTSA acquired from Tesla, as part of the investigation.
After reviewing the data, ODI has not identified evidence that would support a defect investigation into SUA in the subject vehicles. According to the NHTSA, “In every instance in which event data was available for review by ODI, the evidence shows that SUA crashes in the complaints have been caused by pedal misapplication. There is no evidence of any fault in the accelerator pedal assemblies, motor control systems, or brake systems that has contributed to any of the incidents. There is no evidence of a design factor contributing to increased likelihood of pedal misapplication. The theory provided of a potential electronic cause of SUA in the subject vehicles is based upon inaccurate assumptions about system design and log data.”
“NHTSA is authorized to issue an order requiring the remedy of a defect if the Agency’s investigation shows a defect in design, construction, or performance of a motor vehicle that presents an unreasonable risk to safety. Since the information is not indicative of a vehicle based defect, it is unlikely that any investigation opened because of granting this petition would result in an order concerning the notification and remedy of a safety-related defect. Therefore, upon full consideration of the information presented in the petition and the potential risks to safety, the petition is denied. The denial of this petition does not foreclose the Agency from taking further action if warranted or the potential for a future finding that a safety-related defect exists based upon additional information the agency may receive.”
Last month, an important case, for the first time put manufacturers on the hook for sales of used vehicles with problems beginning outside of the original manufacturer’s warranty, but still within the Certified Pre-Owned warranty. It has been unclear for years whether a manufacturer was required to buy back a used vehicle when the problems occurred after the original warranty expired. As long as the problems still occur during the CPO warranty, they’re subject to the lemon law. On the caveat, if the vehicle wasn’t purchased as a Certified Pre Owned vehicle, the manufacturer is off the hook if the problem occurs for the first time outside of the original warranty. The concern with this case, if any, would be that the Certified Pre-Owned program given by all manufacturers may be canceled since the manufacturers don’t want the added responsibility.
The case involves the sale of a certified preowned Mercedes Benz that still had a portion of the new vehicle warranty remaining and an additional used vehicle warranty from the manufacturer. An un-repairable defect manifested after the expiration of the new vehicle warranty, but during the duration of the used vehicle warranty. Mercedes Benz refused to repurchase the vehicle. The plaintiff sued and a jury found Mercedes Benz liable under the Song Beverly Act for breach of the express warranty and the implied warranty of merchantability. The plaintiff was awarded the same compensatory damages on both causes of action.
Ford will be contacting the owners of certain 2019 Ford Fiesta vehicles regarding a problem affecting the braking system in their cars.
According to the defect report filed with the NHTSA, the brake calipers were incorrectly labeled at the manufacturer and may have been filled with an incompatible brake fluid. This incompatible lubricant could cause to the seals to swell and develop leaks, which could lead to reduced braking, brake drag and overheating of the brake pads. If the brake fluid becomes low, drivers will be alerted through an illuminated low fluid warning light.
Ford will notify owners instructing them to return to their dealers to flush the brake fluid and replace the front brake calipers. Ford’s number for this recall is 19S27 and the NHTSA campaign number is 19V629000.
Ford will also be contacting the owners of certain Ford and Lincoln vehicles because of a problem affecting steering. The vehicles affected include:
2015-2016 Ford Edge
2013-2016 Ford Edge
2016 Lincoln MKX
2013-2016 Lincoln MKZ
According to the defect report, an improper application of anti corrosion wax on the steering gear motor attachment bolts may result in corrosion of the bolts. As a result, the steering gear motor could become loose or detaching from the gear housing and power steering assist would be lost.
Owners will be asked to return to their Ford or Lincoln dealers to have the wax sealer applied to the steering gear motor bolts. Ford’s number for this recall is 19S27 and the NHTSA campaign number is 19V629000.
As reported by Takata, due to high temperatures and humidity, airbag propellant could degrade over time and cause the airbags to deploy with too much force. In the event of an airbag rupture, metal fragments could pass through the airbag cushion material, seriously injuring or killing occupants.
Those receiving notices will be instructed to return to their dealers to have the driver’s frontal air bag inflator replaced. Volkswagen’s number for this recall is 69Q9 and the NHTSA campaign number is 18V-148. Note: This recall partially supersedes recall 16V-078.
Jaguar will be contacting the owners of certain Jaguar and Land Rover vehicles equipped with 2.0L gasoline engines, about a fuel safety issue. According to the defect report, inconsistencies in the brazing of the fuel rail end caps could result in fuel vapor and fuel leaks over time. Owners may notice fuel odors while driving and when the hood is lifted.
The vehicles affected by this recall include:
2018 Jaguar E-Pace
2018 Jaguar F-Pace
2018 Jaguar F-Type
2018 Jaguar XE
2018 Jaguar XF
2018 Land Rover Discovery Sport
2018 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque
2018 Land Rover Range Rover Velar
Dealers will correct the problem by replacing the fuel rail. For more information about the problem, owners can contact Jaguar customer service at 1-800-452-4827. Jaguar’s number for this recall is H081 and the NHTSA campaign number is 18V-090 and 18V-087.
As the NHTSA launches phase three of the Takata air bag recall, an additional 3.3 million inflators will be added to the list. Approximately 34 million vehicles are currently under recall for approximately 46 million defective Takata air bags that can explode when the air bag deploys. The phased recall, which began in May 2016 and is expected to continue through December 2019, will affect a total of 65-70 million airbags.
The owners of certain 2013-2016 Honda Accord vehicles will be contacted by the manufacturer regarding a problem affecting the electrical system battery sensor. According to the defect report, the battery sensor case may allow moisture to enter, causing corrosion, an electrical short and a potential fire.
Dealers will inspect the battery sensor and replace faulty or corroded sensors as necessary. If the sensor is in good condition a temporary repair will be made until more parts become available. Owners wanting more information about the problem can contact Honda customer support center at 1-888-234-2138. Honda’s number for this recall is KG0 and the NHTSA campaign number is 17V-418.
The Center for Auto Safety along with five other consumer and safety groups have filed a lawsuit against the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) over its recent decision to permit dealerships to advertise a vehicle as Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) despite having open recalls. The FTC reached an agreement last year with General Motors and two other dealerships, allowing them to advertise automobiles as “certified pre-owned” even though they might have an issue related to a safety recall that still needs to be fixed. The agency did require the companies to disclose any uncompleted safety recalls to the buyer.
The groups suing the FTC say that dealerships could previously sell vehicles with dangerous, unaddressed safety recalls, but allowing them to designate them as CPO will permit unscrupulous auto dealers to engage in false and deceptive advertising about the safety of the vehicles they are selling.