Acura Recall

Acura RecallMalfunction Leads to Acura Recall for Automatic Brakes

Sometimes, it seems as if some new vehicle technology is released before it’s actually ready, and sometimes that can put drivers and others on the road in a less-safe position. Case in point: Honda has issued a voluntary recall of two of its Acura vehicles because of a problem with their highly sophisticated automatic emergency braking systems, which can malfunction, thus putting the vehicles at greater risk of accident.

The models subject to the recall are 2014 and 2015 models of their MDX SUVs and RLX sedans; a total of about 48,000 vehicles worldwide. The vehicles are equipped with what Acura calls its “Collision Mitigation Braking System,” which uses radar to scan road conditions ahead of the vehicles. If the radar system detects an object in front of the vehicle that it is in danger of hitting, the system automatically applies the brakes to slow the vehicle, thus theoretically either avoiding a collision altogether or at least reducing potential damage and  injuries.

Unfortunately, according to Honda, in the recalled vehicles the system seems to become confused whenever a vehicle in front of the car accelerates and the vehicle is traveling along a metal guardrail or an iron fence. The company started noticing the problem in Japan in November 2013 when an Acura SUV suddenly braked for no reason and resulted in a rear-end collision.

As Honda was investigating the problem, a second incident occurred in June 2014, and eventually Honda’s engineers reportedly were able to duplicate the problem later on, and notified the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) back in May of this year. To date, Honda claims there have been no warranty claims, accidents or injuries reported.

Later versions of the system actually work, so those versions of the braking system are not part of the recall. For the recalled vehicles, Acura dealers will update the system software to fix the problem at no cost to owners.

This isn’t the only problem the NHTSA is looking into involving autonomous braking systems. Last week, the NHTSA announced that it was investigating complaints that the systems on some 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokees also can brake for no apparent reason.

Though the autonomous braking systems are still relatively new, and are generally mostly found on higher-end vehicles, safety activists are increasingly pushing to make the feature standard. Earlier this year, the National Transportation Safety Board suggested that automatic warning and braking systems be made standard on every new car and commercial truck.

If you own a vehicle that has been included in this or any vehicle recall, be sure to follow  , please follow the recall instructions exactly. If you or a loved one have been injured or killed in an accident involving a potentially defective vehicle, please contact the experienced  and knowledgeable Texas Automobile Defect Attorneys at Ramsey Hill LLP as soon as possible to protect your rights under the law.

GM Criminal Charges?

GM Criminal ChargesWill the Department of Justice Bring GM Criminal Charges?

Investigators with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) are suggesting that criminal charges could be brought when it comes to the failure of General Motors to disclose a crucial defect in ignition switches that has so far resulted in 104 deaths. As a result, the company is currently negotiating a settlement with the federal government that could actually dwarf the $1.2 billion paid by Toyota last year because that company covered up a problem with unintended acceleration.

Unlike Toyota, however, which fought prosecutors in their case, General Motors has been actively working to cooperate with prosecutors. Such willingness could earn the company a somewhat smaller penalty than they would have paid if they hadn’t been cooperative.

DOJ investigators have been working with the FBI in Manhattan to figure out whether GM misled federal regulators with regard to the extent of the ignition switch problem and failed to comply with laws requiring timely disclosure of vehicle defects, They are also trying to determine if G.M. committed fraud during its 2009 bankruptcy proceedings by failing to disclose the defect.

GM officials have said that entering into an agreement with the DOJ would help the company get past last year, which was a terrible one that hurt its reputation and its bottom line at a time when they simply can’t afford it.

The company began by recalling 2.6 million small cars with faulty ignitions that could be jostled slightly and shut off the engine and cut off power to the car, including the power steering, brakes and airbags.  Not long after that, the recalls snowballed, to the point that GM ended up breaking records, recalling more than 30 million vehicles around the world.  In fact, their aggressive approach to recalls, which is the exact opposite of Toyota’s, could end up saving them millions

If the GM penalty is larger than Toyota’s, it would be the largest fine ever levied by the DOJ. In their agreement with Toyota, the DOJ agreed to defer a prosecution of the company for wire fraud, but only if they agreed to a  continuing three -year review of its safety practices by regulators, after which the charge can be dismissed if they meet all conditions set by the government. The DOJ has not said whether they have offered GM a deferred-prosecution agreement or if GM will be forced to plead guilty to a crime. Of course, no matter what happens to GM in the federal case, there are still a number of state-level investigations to deal with, as well as a number of wrongful death and personal injury lawsuits.

If you own any recalled vehicle, stay safe and follow the recall exactly. And if you or a loved one has been injured or killed in any accident involving a potentially defective vehicle, please contact the experienced  and knowledgeable Texas Automobile Defect Attorneys at Ramsey Hill LLP as soon as possible to protect your rights under the law.

Takata Airbags

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAReplacing Takata Airbags Could Take Years

According to officials with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), at the current rate of repair, it will take many years to fix every vehicle with a potentially explosive Takata airbag, and it’s difficult to imagine the timeline will accelerate anytime soon. So far, out of the 17 million vehicles targeted for recall because of at least one faulty airbag, only two million had been repaired by the end of 2014, in part because Takata can’t make replacement bags fast enough to meet demand.

No one argues that properly working airbags save lives. The NHTSA estimates that more than 2,200 lives were saved by front airbags in 2012 alone and that nearly 37.000 people’s lives were saved by front airbags between 1986 and 2012. But the political reality is, it does damage to the reputation of a safety device most people will never see operate in their lifetime.

To make matters worse, no one really knows what is causing the problem, and there are no guarantees that the replacement airbag systems are safer, since they use the same ammonium nitrate to inflate the bags as the old ones. The chemicals used are the key to airbag operation; a car’s sensors detect a crash and the inflator’s chemical charge produces a lot of nitrogen gas quickly, filling the airbag like a huge pillow. Soon after that, small vents in the airbag allow it to slowly deflate.

The reason Takata has used ammonium nitrate since 2001 to create the chemical charge is because it’s cheaper. Other airbag manufacturers use less volatile chemicals, but they are more expensive. Ammonium nitrate is cheaper, supplies are plentiful and it is less toxic than others. However it can also become unstable at about 100°F, while the interior of a car in summer can reach upwards of 140°F at times.

Takata assures consumers and the NHTSA that the replacements are safe and that they have made design and manufacturing improvements have been made, including a less-concentrated mixture of ammonium nitrate. NHTSA officials agree that the replacement inflators are safer, although they continue to take a look at each new batch to be sure.

This is important, since every vehicle made is equipped with airbags, and Takata supplies more than 20 percent of the market. The ten car makers that have recalled vehicles with Takata airbags banded together earlier this year and hired an independent testing organization, Orbital ATK, to test air bag inflators in the hope of finding answers.

If you own one of the 17 million vehicles being recalled, be patient; at some point you will receive a notice from the automaker, and you should immediately get your car repaired.  If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in an auto or truck accident and you believe a defective vehicle was a factor, please contact the experienced Texas Automobile Defect Attorneys at Ramsey Hill LLP, so that we can investigate and help you protect your rights under the law.

More Chrysler Recalls

More Chrysler RecallsProblems with Transmissions, Airbags Lead to More Chrysler Recalls

It has already been a difficult year for Fiat-Chrysler America (FCA), and it doesn’t look to be getting better any time soon, as the company announced two more voluntary recalls Thursday, affecting more than 62,000 vehicles.

The largest of the two actions covers vehicles equipped with manual transmissions, including Jeep Liberty and Wranglers and Dodge Vipers, all from model year 2006.

The recall was initiated when engineers from FCA discovered that the clutch ignition interlock switches in those vehicles contain a type of wire that was responsible for triggering a previous recall. The wire causes a problem that could result in the vehicles not starting properly, unless a specific set of starting procedures are not followed. Among these starting procedures include “activating the parking brake, placing the shift lever in neutral and pressing the clutch pedal before turning the vehicle’s ignition key.” In some cases, even if the vehicle doesn’t start, it could jerk forward suddenly when the key is turned.

The second, smaller recall affects FCA’s 2015 Ram ProMaster City cargo and passenger vans. Though the recall is much smaller, affecting just under 4,000 vehicles, it is potentially the more serious of the two, because it involves tape that is added to the side-curtain airbags during assembly that could prevent them from deploying in the event of a crash. The company is asking all vehicle owners to check in with the dealer and determine whether or not the tape will have to be removed.

The number of vehicles recalled shattered records last year, after General Motors paid through the nose to people who suffered injuries and deaths because of defective ignition switches that had been covered up for more than a decade. This year seems to be a continuation of that trend.

If you own any of the above vehicles, follow the recalls exactly and keep yourself and your family safe and follow the recall exactly. And if you or a loved one has been injured or killed in any accident involving a potentially defective vehicle, please contact the experienced  and knowledgeable Texas Automobile Defect Attorneys at Ramsey Hill LLP as soon as possible to protect your rights under the law.

Fiat Chrysler Wrongful Death Verdict

Fiat Chrysler Wrongful Death VerdictFiat Chrysler Wrongful Death Verdict Awards Family $150 Million

Last week, a Georgia jury ruled against Fiat Chrysler, a unit of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV, and awarded a family in that state $150 million in a wrongful death lawsuit that was brought after a fiery car crash took the life of the family’s four-year-old son, Remington Walden.

The verdict came after a trial in Decatur County that lasted about two weeks. The family had maintained that the death was due to the failure and placement of a rear-mounted fuel tank on their 1999 Jeep Cherokee, which ruptured on impact. The jury, which deliberated for about a day, ruled that Fiat Chrysler had acted with “reckless and wanton disregard” when it failed to recall these vehicles after discovering the defect. As a result, they ordered the company to pay 99 percent of the damages, with the driver of the vehicle that rear-ended the Cherokee picking up the tab for the other one percent.

Back in 2010, the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA) opened an investigation into the fuel tanks of Jeep Grand Cherokees from model years 1993 to 2004, and the report from that investigation found that the tank was too easily punctured in rear end crashes. The report blamed the fuel tank problem for at least 26 vehicle fires, leading to 15 fatalities and 46 injuries. The NHTSA asked the company to recall 2.7 million vehicles, a request that Fiat Chrysler balked at, saying that the vehicles met all safety standards in effect at that time. Eventually, they did agree to recall some 1993-2004 Grand Cherokee and 2002-2007 Liberty models.

At trial, Fiat Chrysler attorneys tried to claim that the fire did not cause the little boy’s death, and that NHTSA regulators never found a specific defect in the 1999 Jeep Grand Cherokee during their investigation. After the trial. Fiat Chrysler expressed dissatisfaction with the verdict and suggested they may appeal the verdict. Officials for the company have claimed publicly that they were not allowed to present evidence to the jury that the same type of terrible tragedy happens more often in 57 other vehicles on U.S. roads, and that 21 of those vehicles have their fuel tanks in roughly the same place, but none of those other vehicles was asked to recall their vehicles.

If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in a terrible accident that you believe was caused by a defective or unsafe vehicle, contact the Texas Automotive Defect Lawyers at Ramsey Hill LLP and let us look into it and help you protect your rights.

Fiat Chrysler Child Death Trial

Fiat Chrysler Child Death TrialFiat Chrysler Child Death Trial Could Result in GM-Style Recall

In June 2012, a 1999 Jeep Grand Cherokee was rear-ended by another car at an intersection in a small town in Georgia as 4-year-old Remington Walden was being driven to a tennis lesson by an aunt.

The rear end crash caused the Cherokee to burst into flames and the fire spread so fast, the little boy didn’t have a chance. According to experts, the child died a grisly death as he sat inside the car, strapped into his booster seat, surrounded by fire so intense, his chest actually fused itself to the door as he tried desperately to escape the fire.

Now, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV (FCA) is facing a trial in Georgia that could do major harm to its reputation. According to safety advocates and allegations made in the complaint, the company has known of the hazard caused by the placement of fuel tanks within 11 inches of the vehicle’s bumper for many years and chose to ignore it.

Many believe FCA may end up with problems similar to those GM faced last year for its refusal to deal with faulty ignition switches for many years. In that case, GM was fined $35 million by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and has been forced to pay nearly $2.8 billion to repair 36 million recalled vehicles.

For their part, FCA will claim that the Jeep that caught fire and others like it are “absolutely safe.” They assert that the vehicles in question actually exceed federal fuel tank safety standards, and they’re even safer after a tow hitch is installed, because it protects the gas tank.

However, at one point, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) conducted an investigation into why the fuel tanks in some Grand Cherokee and Liberty models tended to rupture and ignite instantly when hit from the rear. They were concerned because the fires had killed or severely burned passengers before they could get out of the vehicle. A preliminary NHTSA finding in 2013 including a request for a 2.7 million vehicle recall, because the tanks were well within a 2-foot “crush zone” identified in FCA’s own crash testing.

FCA fought the recall and met with officials at the U.S. Department of Transportation in June 2013, and agreed to add the tow hitches instead. Eventually, the NHTSA accepted the proposal. This despite the fact that government data showed that fires similar to the one that killed 4-year-old Remington Walden had caused 75 fatalities.

This could be a costly trial for Fiat Chrysler, in more ways than one, but the result could save many lives, if it results in car makers and regulators more careful. If you or a loved were injured or killed in the crash involving a potentially defective vehicle of any kind, please contact the knowledgeable and experienced Texas Automobile Defect Attorneys at Ramsey Hill LLP as soon as possible to protect your rights under the law.

GM Recall Deaths

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAGM Recall Deaths Continue to Climb

Every Monday, the number of families ruled eligible for compensation for deaths due to  crashes caused by defective ignition switches in General Motors vehicles is updated, and the numbers keep going up. The number, which started at 13 when GM announced the initial recall a year ago and stayed there for quite some time, now stands at 64. That’s up from 57 a week ago. And since claims are still being processed, that number could continue to go higher.

The recall was a long time coming. GM made the initial recall announcements back in February and March 2014, but they apparently knew about the defect, in which defective switches can be jostled to move out of the run position and cause the engine to shut down altogether, as early as 2001. When the engine shuts down, so do most vehicle functions, including the power steering and the airbags, which not only increases the risk of accident, but also increases the risk of injury, since the airbags may not deploy.

As a result, the company took a lot of heat and was fined $35 million by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). So far, they’ve had to recall more than 5.8 million vehicles in the U.S. for that problem alone. Overall, last year the company recalled 34 million vehicles.

In addition to the 64 deaths that have been confirmed caused by this defect, the latest update noted that that an additional 108 people were injured seriously enough by the defect to be eligible for compensation. Based on their figures, the company expects to pay out between $400 million and $600 million through the victims’ compensation fund. And  that is in addition to the more than $2.8 billion they’ve spent on repair costs and loaner cars in order to fix the problem. GM wrote that amount off against earnings in the first two quarters last year.

Because of the GM recall delay, many car companies are a lot quicker to recall vehicles now, which led to a record numbers of recalls last year; more than twice the previous record.

If you own any vehicle that has been recalled, keep yourself and your family safe and follow the recall exactly, and have the defect repaired as quickly as possible. And if you or a loved one has been injured or killed in any accident involving a potentially defective vehicle, please contact the experienced  and knowledgeable Texas Automobile Defect Attorneys at Ramsey Hill LLP as soon as possible to protect your rights under the law.

Luxury Car Recalls

Luxury Car RecallsSerious Defects Lead to Luxury Car Recalls

The problem of automotive defects isn’t limited to just run-of-the-mill vehicles. It also reaches into the luxury car brands quite often.  This week is a perfect example of that.

To begin the week, General Motors announced a voluntary recall of nearly 67,000 of their 2013 through 2015 Cadillac ATS compact sport sedans because of a potential problem with its sunroofs, which can close automatically even if they are barely touched. Because the switches can be activated with almost no force, they are actually in violation of federal safety standards.

Engineers at GM discovered the problem in January, as they conducted tests on a new 2016 model. The company, which already set recall records last year, says there have been no reports of crashes or injuries linked to this defect. They have repaired all ATS vehicles at the factory, and they have told dealers to stop selling the cars on their lots until all have been repaired. For those consumers who have purchased these vehicles, they will be instructed to return it to the dealer, where a switch trim plate will be replaced.

Later the same day, Mercedes-Benz USA issued a recall of more than 147,000 Mercedes-Benz vehicles because of a problem that could cause the vehicle to catch fire.

Included in the recall include model year 2013 through 2015 E350s, E63 and CLS63 AMGs, E400 Hybrids and CLS550s, as well as 2013 and 2014 E550s, 2015 non-hybrid E400s and CLS400s. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the problem comes because the rubber lining that is supposed to seal the engine can come loose and off its track, causing it to dangle in the space between the catalytic converter and the engine, which can result in the rubber catching fire. They discovered the problem last July, and engineers figured out that a small design change had made assembly during production more difficult, and that made the problem more common.

Sometime in early March, Mercedes dealers will fix the problem by installing four retaining clips in the affected vehicles. The company advised customers that they could continue to drive their cars in the meantime.

If you have any of the vehicles involved in these recalls, follow the recall instructions exactly. If you or a loved one was injured or killed in an accident involving these or any other defective vehicles, please contact the experienced Texas Vehicle Defect Lawyers at Ramsey Hill LLP as soon as possible, so that we can protect your rights.

Jaguar Land Rover Recall

Jaguar Land Rover RecallBrake Problems, Lights Lead to 100,000+ Jaguar Land Rover Recall

The epidemic of vehicle recalls is hitting some luxury brands. The latest example of this is a voluntary recall issued by British automaker Jaguar Land Rover for more than 100,000 vehicles in the United States because of problems with brake hoses and lights.

In all, the recall includes nearly 75,000 Range Rovers from model years 2006 through 2012 because of the potential for a rupture in the hose of either one or both front brakes. If this happens, there is a possibility of a loss of brake fluid, and the eventual loss of braking altogether.

The problem was first spotted by Jaguar Land Rover North America dealers in November 2010, when owners and mechanics reported a number of very significant bulges in the hoses. The company investigated the problem, but in 2012 decided that the bulges were too sporadic, and since there were no accidents or injuries, they decided to not issue a recall. Then, in 2014, there was an accident involving a Range Rover that was blamed on several ruptured brake hoses, and the company reopened the investigation, which led to this latest recall.

In addition to that problem, the company is recalling model year 2013 and 2014 Range Rover Sports and Range Rovers for a problem with the vehicle’s brake vacuum hose, which may have been improperly routed. This could cause the hoses to endure excessive wear, which could cause a hole and the potential loss of braking.

The third problem leading to this large recall covers nearly 5,000 model year 2012 through 2015 Jaguar XKs for a problem with their side parking lights, which may shut off inadvertently after five minutes.

The recall is one of the largest ever by Jaguar Land Rover. They hope to begin recall repairs on March 13, 2015. For those owners of vehicles with a brake hose issue, dealers will replace the hose. Owners of vehicles with the brake vacuum hose problem will have their vehicle inspected, and dealers will either reroute or repair the hoses as appropriate. Those with the problem with parking lights will receive and update and re-installation of their vehicle’s software. All fixes will be free of charge.

If you have one of these vehicles, follow the recall instructions carefully and have your vehicle repaired as close to March 13 as possible. If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in an accident that may have involved a defective vehicle, please contact the Texas Automotive Defect Lawyers at Ramsey Hill LLP as soon as possible, so that we can get to the bottom of the problem and protect your rights.

GM Defect Deaths

GM Defect Deaths Hit a Milestone

About a year ago, it was discovered that millions of General Motors vehicles had a potentially very dangerous defect involving the ignition switches on millions of vehicles, and involved a wide number of makes and models.

In these defective vehicles, if the ignition switch was in the “on” position, the keys could be jostled, and result in the switch moving to the “off” or “accessory” position, which could result in the engine suddenly shutting off, and the driver suddenly losing power, including to the steering and braking.  Worse, the air bags could be deactivated, and fail to inflate in a crash, which is more likely when the car suddenly loses power on a highway.

GM has been sued for this defect, and faces billions in claims as a result. With a January 31, 2015  deadline for filing claims looms, however, this case of corporate neglect has reached an unfortunate milestone, as the number of confirmed deaths linked to this defect has reached 50. That number is nearly four times the number of deaths GM claimed were associated with this defect through most of last year, which was 13.

That number may go even higher. Through January 23, a total of 338 death claims had been filed. While most were dismissed for not meeting the standard of proof of what caused the accident,  67 of the claims are still under review, and 53 others are promising to document their claims.

One reason GM stuck to the 13 deaths figure for so long is because GM engineers were looking for “definitive proof of ignition switch failure.” Also, the company may have been trying to save face on a defect that they knew about as early as 2001, but did nothing to rectify the problem.

Thus far, according to a regulatory filing with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), GM has recalled more than 34 million vehicles and spent $2.7 billion trying to fix the problem, including the cost of repairs and loaner cars.

The list of GM vehicles that may have defective ignition switches include:

  • Buick LaCrosses, from 2005-2009
  • Buick Lucernes from  2006-2011
  • Buick Regal LS and GS models from 2004 and 2005
  • Cadillac Devilles from 2000-2005
  • Chevrolet Camaros from 2010-2014
  • Chevrolet Cobalts from 2005-2010
  • Chevrolet HHRs from 2006-2011
  • Chevrolet Impalas from 2006-2014
  • Chevrolet Monte Carlos from 2006-2008
  • Opel GTs from 2007-2010
  • Pontiac Pursuits from 2005 and 2006
  • Pontiac Solstice models from 2006-2010
  • Saturn Ions from 2003-2007
  • Saturn Sky models from 2006-2011

Consumers who have one of these vehicles and hasn’t received a recall notice, or haven’t taken it in to be repaired yet should do so right away. This is a potentially deadly defect and should be taken seriously.

If you or someone you love have been injured or killed in any vehicle accident, and there is a possibility a defective vehicle may have had a part in causing it, please contact the experienced Texas Automotive Defect Lawyers at Ramsey Hill LLP as soon as possible to protect your rights.