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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.”
Buying a used car has become a complex ordeal. Franchised and independent dealers, rental companies, leasing companies, car superstores, and online sellers compete to bring in customers by promising the best prices, better warranties, and certified pre-owned (CPO) vehicles. In most cases, CPO vehicles have been subject to a rigorous, multi-point inspection and can be expected to operate almost as good as new. Certified pre-owned can mean different things to different dealers, but a manufacturer CPO usually has higher standards than most independent used car lots.
New changes in the Federal Trade Commissions (FTC) used car rules could mean that a CPO vehicle may not always be safe. Last months changes will make it easier to label vehicles as “Certified Pre-Owned,” even if it is under recall and has not been fixed. These changes came as a result of the Takata airbag defect and its unprecedented 60 million airbags recalled. The lack of replacement parts has dealers first replacing airbags most likely to cause harm, while others may have to wait years before they can get repairs done. Given the situation, the Federal Trade Commission said dealers may advertise used vehicles as certified even if their airbags were under recall, as long as the problem has been disclosed to the buyer. Continue reading →
An investigation into a fatal crash involving a Tesla Model S autopilot system has safety regulators warning drivers to not use semi-autonomous cars as if they were fully self-driving. The investigation began after a driver using autopilot in a 2015 Tesla Model S died when the car failed to spot a tractor trailer crossing its path. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) blamed the driver of the vehicle because he ignored the manufacturer’s warnings to maintain control even while using the driver-assist function. The NHTSA said it found no defects in the vehicle and would not issue a recall.
Just last year, the NHTSA released guidelines to ensure vehicle safety without slowing the development of semi-autonomous and self-driving cars. The agency says self-driving features could dramatically reduce traffic deaths by eliminating human error, which plays a role in 94 percent of fatal crashes. Although Tesla has maintained that autopilot was not responsible for the drivers death, it issued a number of over-the-air updates to the software to increased use of radar sensors and have added a feature that would disable autopilot if drivers took their hands off the wheel too many times.
The Department of Transportation continues to ask for the news media and public’s assistance to find vehicles with unrepaired Takata airbags, after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration confirmed a crash fatality in Riverside County, California is tied to a rupture of a recalled Takata air bag inflator.
The victim died after suffering injuries in a crash on Friday, Sept. 30. The vehicle involved was a 2001 Honda Civic first recalled in 2008. Records show that the recall repair was never completed. The vehicle is included in a list of Honda and Acura vehicles which have been identified as being a substantially higher risk. These airbag inflators in these vehicles have a manufacturing defect which increases the potential for a dangerous rupture upon deployment. These ruptures are more likely to happen in vehicles that have spent significant periods of time in areas of high humidity such as Florida, Texas, parts of the Gulf Coast and Southern California. These vehicles show rupture rates as high as fifty percent in a laboratory setting.
The higher-risk inflators are in the following 2001-2003 Honda and Acura vehicles:
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have upgraded an investigation into exploding airbag inflators made by ARC Automotive Incorporated after a Canadian woman was killed during a low speed accident. According to a spokesman for Transport Canada, the woman may have survived the accident had she not suffered shrapnel injuries. The NHTSA began looking at ARC airbags last year after reports that an Ohio woman was seriously injured by a rupturing airbag when her 2002 Chrysler Town and Country minivan crashed. Investigators say another injury involving a 2004 Kia Optima also had an ARC inflator installed from the same factory.
The NHTSA are focusing on airbags made between 2000 and September 2004, but do not believe that humidity is the cause of the problem. The probe into the ARC inflators is similar to the Takata issue which resulted in 69 million Takata airbags recalled in the U.S.
New data affecting defective Takata air bag inflators in certain 2001-2003 Honda and Acura vehicles, has found a high risk of ruptures during air bag deployment. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are asking the media and public to ensure that vehicles in this population are found and fixed before they cause injuries or fatalities. According to U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, there is a 50% higher chance that these air bag inflators could rupture in a crash. Owners should stop driving their vehicles and have the airbags replace immediately. Continue reading →
On December 4, 2015 President Obama signed the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act (Pub. L. No. 114-94) into law. Although the federal act focuses primarily on maintaining infrastructure, a major provision within the regulations includes rules affecting automobile rental companies. The legislation was championed by the family of Raechel and Jacqueline Houck, sisters who died in a rental vehicle that was under a safety recall that had not been repaired.
Beginning June 1, 2016, any company or dealer with fleets greater than 35 will be prohibited from renting vehicles with recalls until the problem has been fixed. Although the bill passed with the support of the rental car industry and the input of the American Car Rental Association, smaller independent companies question how the bill will affect their business. Often, automakers will announce a recall without a timeline for repairs or parts, leaving some fleets with cars parked for a potentially long time. Continue reading →
A 17-year-old driver of a 2002 Honda Civic was killed last month after her Takata air bag ruptured during a rear-end crash. This is the 10th known U.S. death in addition to over 100 people that have been injured when their Takata airbags exploded with too much force. Continue reading →