Kia has announced that they will be recalling their 2010 Kia Soul and the 2011 Kia Sorento over wire harnesses which have been improperly soldered. The wiring that runs in the door trim panels are susceptible to an electrical short which could lead to a fire.

No accidents or injuries have been reported due to this problem. After receiving a recall letter later this month Kia owners will be able to bring in their vehicles to have the harnesses replaced, free of charge.

Posted in Kia.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has launched an investigation into a possible defect with the gas tanks on 1993-2004 Jeep Grand Cherokees. The investigation was encouraged by the advocacy group Center for Auto Safety in October when they said that the plastic fuel tank was susceptible to ruptures during rear end collisions and roll overs.

In the last two decades, the NHTSA said that there have been 55 deaths in crashes involving the sport utility, in which fire was listed as the probable cause of death. In ten of those crashes, the vehicle was involved in a rear end collision.

After an initial review, the NHTSA has reported that the Grand Cherokee does not have a significantly higher number of fires than any other vehicle. In a statement, NHTSA said, “The existence of these post-crash fires does not, by itself, establish a defect trend.” Further review and investigation into these accidents is needed to determine if the problem constitutes a recall.

Last Tuesday, Oakland opened its first bio fuels station offering fill ups for cars that can run on renewable alternatives to gasoline. The station, operated by Propel Fuels, not only offered each new customer five free gallons of fuel, but had a marketing team on hand to assist customers who were not sure whether their vehicle was bio fuel compatible. (Those wondering whether their cars can run on bio fuels can visit Propel’s online guide).

Propel has been expanding its California operations rapidly since entering the state in January 2009. Stations similar to this one opened in Fremont and San Jose this summer, and a Berkeley station is expected to open soon. Emily Shellabarger, Propels marketing specialists says, “our focus is now on California. We are interested in building a California-wide network .” And this network will soon be a reality with an $11 billion grant from the Department of Energy and the California Energy Commission. With this money, they will build and operate 75 self serve alternative fuel stations across the state over the next two years. Propel said it will match the grant funding with $16 million in private investment to speed up building of Propel’s network of fueling stations.

In addition to luring drivers to its stations, Propel has tried to widen its customer base through social networking. The company communicates with customers and seeks out new ones online by means of both a blog and a page on Facebook.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is opening an investigating into 2009 Volkswagen Jetta TDI cars after receiving seven complaints that the engine stalled while driving. It is estimated that about 38,000 diesel Jetta TDI and Jetta SportWagon TDI models could be affected. The NHTSA thinks the problem may be related to potential fuel system contamination issues.

VW spokesman Kerry Christopher said that Volkswagen takes safety issues very seriously and will fully cooperate with the NHTSA’s investigation.

An intensified investigation into complaints of stalling engines has lead Toyota to recall over one million 2005-2008 Corolla sedans and Matrix wagons. The recall will also include 2005-2008 Pontiac Vibe vehicles. No other Toyota or Lexus vehicles are involved in the recall.

The problem is being blamed on an improperly manufactured engine control unit (ECU) which could lead to the check engine light coming on, hard shifting, the engine not starting or stalling while driving. Toyota has known about this problem since 2005 when it issued a technical service bulletin (TSB). At the time, if a customer came in with any of the above complaints, the ECU was replaced under warranty. If the warranty was up, it was left to the discretion of the dealership whether they would pay for it or not. Now that there has been an official recall the automaker will reimburse customers who paid for the fix.

Toyota and GM will mail owners notices starting in middle September. The ECU will be replaced on all of the recalled vehicles free of charge.

Ford is recalling over half a million 1998-2003 Windstar minivans because corrosion of the rear axle could lead it to break. The recall will focus on vehicles driven in areas where salt is used on the roads. After many years of vehicle service in these areas, corrosion can weaken the rear axle, making it susceptible to torsional stress.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) launched a preliminary investigation into the problem last may, after the agency received 234 reports of rear axle fractures and two minor crashes. Ford said they have received almost 1000 complaints of alleged cracked rear axles, including seven that resulted in injuries. The company will install reinforcement brackets free of charge on recalled vehicles. The places affected by the recall are Canada, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

A recall has not been issued yet, but U.S. safety regulators are intensifying an investigation into complaints of stalling engines on Toyota Corollas and Matrix hatchbacks. The preliminary probe begun last November when the NHTSA received complaints for 2006 models, but the problem has been expanded to include almost 1.2 million 2005-2007 Corolla and Matrix cars.

The problem is being blamed on an improper coating on the engine control unit (ECU) circuit boards that lead to cracks in the coating. The NHTSA has received 163 complaints of stalling engines as of last week. It is unclear whether the investigation will lead to a recall.

The Express Park program is a year long program aimed at making parking easier for Los Angeles downtown motorists. The LA Department of Transportation has begun installing high tech parking meters throughout the city that will allow motorists to pay with credit and debit cards as well as the traditional coin method. This network of meters will also be used to keep track of parked cars in real time, and will eventually be able to alert motorists to empty parking stalls. The program will feature adjustable parking rates, which will increase and decrease rates according to demand. The experimental programs goal is to encourage public transit and reduce pollution and congestion caused by motorists cruising the block in search of a parking place.

Los Angeles is developing ExpressPark in partnership with Caltrans and the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, using $15 million in grants from the federal Department of Transportation and $3.5 million in city funds. The program is similar to one recently launched in San Francisco and will cover 5,500 on-street metered spaces and 7,500 unmetered public parking spaces in off-street, city-operated facilities. The areas you will see these meters popping up includes Civic Center, the central business district, Chinatown and Little Tokyo.