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.

A settlement between US regulators and Volkswagen will have the automobile manufacturer buying back approximately 20,000 VW, Audi and Porsche 3.0-liter diesel vehicles. The scandal began last year when Volkswagen was caught fitting their vehicles with software used to fool emissions tests. The U.S. Department of Justice reached an agreement with VW for 475,000 2.0-liter diesel cars, giving owners the option to choose a buyback for the full trade in price and reimbursing owners $5,100 to $10,000 each, depending on the age of the car and if they owned it prior to Sept. 18 of last year.

This recent settlement concerns the remaining 80,000, 2009-2016 VW, Audi and Porsche 3.0-liter diesel vehicles. According to U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer, the settlement will include a buyback option for approximately 20,000 owners and a substantial compensation on top of any repairs or a buyback. Volkswagen said they believe they can modify the other 60,000 vehicles into compliance with pollution regulations and will not offer a buyback if they can.

In total, Volkswagen will spend up to $10 billion compensating consumers. This includes $2.7 billion for environmental mitigation and $2 billion to promote zero-emissions vehicles. In a separate court filing, Volkswagen has agreed to add at least three additional electric vehicles in California by 2020 and must sell an average of 5,000 electric vehicles annually through 2025. Volkswagen also agreed to pay California’s state air board compensation for $25 million.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has agreed to delay a recall of certain General Motors vehicles equipped with potentially defective Takata air bags. The decision will give the manufacturer time for additional testing to prove that their devices are safe. The vehicles under investigation are certain 2007 to 2011 trucks and SUVs, including the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra.

The case first began when Takata filed papers with the NHTSA declaring that 40 million inflators from 17 auto manufacturers were defective and should be recalled. The addition pushed the number of recalled inflators to about 70 million, making it one of the largest auto recalls in the United States. In the petition to delay the recall, GM said its trucks and SUVs have experienced 52,000 airbag inflations with no ruptures. The company also said Takata tested 1,475 GM inflators and all worked as designed. According to General Motors, bigger vents, stronger steel end caps and solar-absorbing glass that reduces cabin temperatures has resulted in their airbags deploying safely.

If the 2.5 million truck recall is canceled, GM will likely seek the same decision for 4.3 million more trucks with the same inflators that are due to be recalled starting next year.

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:

  • 2001-002 Honda Civic
  • 2001-2002 Honda Accord
  • 2002-2003 Acura 3.2TL
  • 2002 Honda CR-V
  • 2002 Honda Odyssey
  • 2003 Acura 3.2CL
  • 2003 Honda Pilot

Subaru will be contacting the owners of certain Forester, Impreza, Legacy and Outback vehicles regarding a problem affecting the electrical system. According to the defect report, an inappropriate manufacturing process of the secondary air injection pump relay could allow the the pump to continuously operate and overheat. Drivers may notice an illuminated check engine light and could experience a possible fire. Continue reading

Chrysler will be contacting owners of certain Dodge Charger Police cars and RAM trucks regarding a problem affecting the electrical system. The affected vehicles could experience premature thermal fatigue of the silicon rubber diodes in the alternator. The diodes could develop a short which could result in the failure of the vehicle charging system and a risk of engine stalls and/or a vehicle fire. Drivers may experience a reduction in vehicle charging and/or a low battery indicator warning.

The vehicles affected include:

Continue reading

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.

View the full details of the NHTSA ARC Airbag Investigation HERE.