Corolla, Matrix and Vibe Recall

Toyota has recalled over one million 2005-2008 Corolla and Matrix vehicles due to a defect in the engine control module. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the module can crack as a result of faulty manufacturing. If the module cracks, the engine might not start. If in operation, the driver might sense harsh shifting or the engine can stall resulting in a crash. The recalled vehicles are equipped with two-wheel drive and an 1ZZ-FE engine.  General Motors has also recalled approximately 200,000 2005-2008 Pontiac Vibes for the same defect. General Motors and Toyota created a joint venture to design and build the Vibe and as a result, used the same engine control module that was used in the Corolla and Matrix vehicles.  For additional information, please visit the NHTSA website at www.nhtsa.gov and reference NHTSA campaign number 10V384000 or contact the Toyota Customer Experience Center at 1-800-331-4331.

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Tankless Water Heater Explosion

While investigating the cause of a tankless water heater explosion, the extent of the damage reinforced the mechanics behind the explosive force. Tankless water heaters are devices that put a large amount of heat into flowing water in a very short period of time. But, when the water stops flowing and the heat doesn’t, there can be a tremendous release of destructive energy. It is well known that as water is  heated in an enclosure, not only does the temperature rise but, the pressure also rises as well. Pressure cookers are a good example of how water can become pressurized and if caution is not exercised by the user, can be come a deadly force. In addition, explosions involving conventional water heaters and boilers are not unheard of. As a result, temperature and  pressure valves have been required equipment on these items for a number of  years. However, tankless water heaters don’t have relief valves. Since the amount of water to be heated is less than one gallon, (when water is not flowing) it doen’t take long to cause the temperature and pressure  to reach explosive levels. The tankless unit currently under investigation contains two small reservoirs in which heating elements are immersed. The reservoirs appear to be constructed of  a hard, plastic-like material, the properties of which are unknown. The point at which rupture occurs is  dependant on the properties of the material because it is the materal that is  subjected to the rapidly increasing pressure.

Recall News

We have updated the News column of our website to bring you the most recent vehicle recalls on some well-known makes. First, Blue Bird, the makers of school buses, have recalled some of their vehicles as a result of a cruise control problem. Basically, the control may not disengage when the brakes are applied. In addition, Subaru is  recalling some of its Outback and Legacy vehicles due  to a lubrication problem. Apparently, a hole that was supposed to have been provided in their six speed manual transmissions was left out.  As a result, the gears are not being lubricated and there is a possibility that the gears will break. If this happens, the driver will possibly lose control due to the loss of power and crash. Furthermore, Nissan is also recalling some of its “Cube” cars.  Some of the 2009-2010 models leak more fuel than what is allowed when hit  from the rear. Dealers are supposed to have a special protection device to install free of charge. Lastly, Toyota is recalling 2000-2004 “Avalon” because of a crack that can develop in the steering lock bar. If left unattended, the crack will cause the bar to break and the steering wheel to lock. The driver could lose control of  the vehicle and crash. Toyota is also recalling 2003-2007 Lexus LX470 models because of a steering shaft snap ring that can disengage. If that happens, over time, the steering shaft can disconnect causing the driver to lose ccontrol and crash.  For more detailed information,  please visit our website at www.rjhill.com and under the “News” column click on “Recall News”.

Lightning Damage

There are times when during thunderstorms a number of lightning flashes will occur. Sometimes those flashes turn out to be cloud to ground strikes. When that happens, it is possible for electrical transformers and wiring to be damaged. It is also possible for tall objects such as buildings, antennas and poles to be hit. It is not unheard of for lightning to damage telephones, computers, televisions and just about anything electrical. However, when damage occurs and a claim is submitted to an insurance company, the insurer will want to know, if in fact, lightning caused the damage. In order to determine if lightning was to blame, it just makes sense to see if lightning was in the area when the damage occurred. There is a lightning detection network from which data can be obtained for specific dates and time periods. Typically, a radius of five miles from the location in question is searched. The reports that are generated usually indicate the time and location in terms of coordinates, intensity in terms of amps and the distance from the target location. If a report returns no recorded strikes, then, the conclusion is obvious – the damage wasn’t caused by lightning. However, conclusion becomes more complicated when a lone strike occurs say, three miles away from the target location. The question then becomes “if lightning caused the damage, then what path did it take?” In this scenario, there are only two ways for lightning to travel: through the power grid and the ground. Contacting the local electric company will usually reveal whether lightning was a problem and whether it affected the area where the target is located. On the other hand, if lightning hits the ground, the geological makeup will offer resistance to the flow of current. The amount of resistance is dependant on whether the minerals in the ground are conductors of electricity or insulators. The further away a strike occurs from the  target,  the less the likelihood that the strike actually caused the damage claimed.

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