Toyota Recalls Vehicles for Faulty Fuel Pumps

Several news outlets including ABC News and CBS News are reporting that Toyota is recalling nearly 700,000 vehicles for a faulty fuel pump.  The fuel pumps can stop pumping fuel without warning and cause the vehicle’s engine to stop.  A sudden loss of engine power can result in loss of control and increases the risk of a crash.  The following vehicles are affected:  2018 and 2019 Lexus LS 500, LC 500, RC 350, RC 300, GS 350, IS 300, ES 350, LX 570, GX 460, and RX 350 models.  In addition, 2018 and 2019 Toyota 4Runner, Camry, Highlander, Land Cruiser, Sequoia, Sienna, Tacoma, and Tundra vehicles are recalled.  Furthermore, 2019 Avalon and Corolla are also included in this recall.  Other than the Lexus models, only certain models of the other vehicles are affected.  For additional information, owners should go to Toyota’s website, www.toyota.com,  and enter their vehicle identification numbers in the recall page to see if their vehicles are part of the recall.  Support is also available by calling 1-800-331-4331.

Space Heater Fire Cause

Recently, we were asked to investigate a fire involving a newly purchased space heater. Space heaters tend to be small heating appliances meant to heat “small” spaces inside a home or other building. In this particular case, the heater was intended for use with propane gas and rated with a capacity of 30,000 BTU/hr. The homeowner had purchased the heater from a local Home Depot store and installed the heater himself. The installation amounted to connecting the heater to a gas supply line. After approximately three days use, a fire occurred. Luckily, the fire was quickly extinguished with minimal burn damage to the floor and smoke damage throughout the remainder of the home. Upon visual examination of the gas line connection, it was noted that the shutoff valve had been attached to the heater gas line fitting. The proper position for the shut off valve was in the gas supply line from the home at the point where the line was accessed above the floor. The outlet of the valve is then supposed to be connected to that part of the gas line that is connected to the heater. However, the main problem was found to have been in the connection of the valve to the heater fitting. The shut off valve appeared to have been cross-threaded onto the fitting. The pipe joint compound used to seal the threaded connection was also scorched and was indicative as well as a confirmation of a gas leak at that point. In should be noted that since propane is heavier than air, an accumulation around the heater while it was in operation would have ignited, which is what actually happened. The photographs below show how the shut off valve was misaligned with the heater fitting and the resulting damage to the heater.

Holiday Fires

This is the time of year when everyone gets excited because Christmas is almost here.  It’s also the time when happiness can turn to disappointment in the blink of an eye.  Disasters caused by fire don’t take a holiday just because it’s Christmas.  This is a time when we need to be especially careful when hanging lights and decorating our trees.  If your strings of lights are frayed, bare or arcing, don’t use them.  If you are using ornaments that contain internal lighting, be sure that the wires are not pinched, the insulation is not cracked and that the bulbs are securely in place.  In addition, be sure that the plugs are in good condition and the prongs are not loose or broken.  Be careful using extension cords.  If you are hanging exterior lighting and you need an extension, be sure to use an extension approved for exterior use.  Do not use an interior extension cord with exterior lighting as they are typically not weather proof.  Rainwater entering the connection can easily cause a short circuit.  Keep an eye on timers and automatic switches to make sure that they turn on and off at the appropriate times.  Just some food for thought…

Wishing everyone a safe and happy holiday season.

Brake and Battery Issues Prompt GM to Recall Trucks

General Motors has recalled approximately 464,000 Cadillac CT6, Chevrolet Silverado 1500 and GMC Sierra 1500 trucks, all 2019 model year vehicles.  GM has discovered that a software error can disable the electronic stability and antilock braking systems.  According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), dealers are supposed start repairing recalled vehicles on January 27, 2020.  The repair will consist of reprogramming the antilock brake computer.  GM has also recalled 350,000 model years 2019 and 2020 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 and GMC Sierra 1500 pickup trucks.  The problem with these vehicles is that the cable that goes from the battery to the alternator has too much glue in it.  As a result, the glue imposes a resistance to the flow of current and can cause the engine to stall, and possibly ignite.  This recall is also expected to begin on January 27, 2020.  Dealers are supposed to inspect the cables and clean the connections if necessary.  For additional information, owners can contact GM by visiting their website at www.gm.com, then scrolling to the bottom of the page and click on recalls.   Please have your vehicle identification number ready as you will be prompted to enter it to see if your vehicle is affected. 

Ford Recalls Super Duty Trucks

Ford Recalls Super Duty Trucks

The Ford Motor Company is recalling approximately 500,000 Super Duty trucks due to a concern that sparks from a seat belt pretensioner can start a fire.  The seat belt pretensioner deploys when a crash occurs.  Upon impact, the pretensioner is engaged and begins to emit sparks.  The sparks can then ignite carpet and carpet insulation in the area of the side roof pillar, also known as the “B” pillar.  If ignition occurs, the risk of injury can increase depending on the condition of the vehicle occupants.  This recall applies to F 250, F 350, F 450, and F 550 Super Duty, Super Crew vehicles built at Ford’s Kentucky Truck Plant between October 8, 2015 and October 29, 2019.  “Super Crew” refers to those affected vehicles that have four full-sized doors.  Dealers will apply foil tape to the carpet and carpet insulation and modify the sound deadener on the backside of the “B” pillar trim panel at no cost to owners.  For additional information, owners can contact Ford by calling 1-800-392-3673 and referencing recall number 19S52.  Owners can also go to NHTSA’s website and enter their vehicle identification number to determine if their vehicle is recalled.  If no recall appears, then the vehicle is NOT recalled.

Holiday Greetings

R. J Hill Consulting would like to wish you and yours

Happy Holidays !

I Don't Work That Way!

There have been times when an assignment is received and the client makes known that it wants a certain outcome.  Simply put, the client wants to subrogate against a third party in order to recover its losses.  It is understood that subrogation is in the best interests of the client when the action is justified.  That is, when a product is proven to cause personal injury or property damage, then the insurance carrier should have the right to recover the monetary amount paid to their insured, from the manufacturer.  However, there are times when subrogation is not always possible.  As an example, consider the loss of a building in a fire.  It is suspected that the fire was caused by an electrical malfunction.  The insurance carrier has to indemnify the building owner but doesn’t care who is held responsible as long as some party is identified.  This is where I will NOT work toward accusing any party of wrongdoing unless I have the evidence to do so.  I will not distort facts in favor of a client or create a bias where there is none so that the client can have a favorable position in a subrogation suit.  I believe that all information should be considered.  If that information is contrary to the client’s position, then so be it.  No individual or commercial entity should be treated unfairly.  Let the facts speak for themselves.  If the situation is such that the evidence indicates criminal activity, then my job ends (because I and most engineering investigation companies), do not have any legal authority) and law enforcement begins.   

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