Combustible Hoverboards Still Out There

Back in 2016, the Consumer Product Safety Commission recalled thousands of hoverboards due to a problem with lithium ion batteries.  The batteries would short circuit and cause the hoverboards to ignite.  Because most of the brands used cheap materials and were made overseas, the market pretty much disappeared overnight.  However, hoverboards that have some age on them are still in use.  Recently, one was encountered in the investigation of an apartment fire.  The condition of the hoverboard is shown below.  Spontaneous ignition of the hoverboard was determined to have been the cause of the fire.  More specifically, the lithium ion batteries  appeared to have self-short-circuited resulting in excessive heat buildup (thermal runaway) that ultimately led to the ignition of the product.  If you have an older product, it is recommended that you replace the batteries with batteries or a battery pack certified by Underwriters Laboratories (UL).  Make sure that the batteries or battery pack has been tested according to UL standard 1642 or 2054.  The product should carry a label showing what standard has been met.   For new products made this year, 2020, the product should have been tested according to UL standard 2272.  Look for a label on the product indicating that the product has been certified accordingly.       

Ford Recalls Vehicles for Latch and Brake Issues

The Ford Motor Company has issued a recall for approximately 2.1 million vehicles with a door latch issue.  The latch issue was previously addressed under recall numbers 15S16 and 16S30.  While some of the door latches might have been replaced under one of the two recalls, not all of the latches were replaced or replaced correctly.  As a result, some of the latch pawl spring tabs are still cracking or failing under high thermal loads (combination of air temperature and solar radiation). Owners will be given the opportunity to have a dealer inspect the latch or verify the latch code themselves and validate the repair online.  The following vehicles are affected:

2011 – 2014 Ford Fiesta built at Cuautitlan plant between Jan 26, 2010 and Oct 31, 2013

2012 – 2015 Ford Focus built at Michigan plant between Oct 4, 2010 and Jan 31, 2015

2013 – 2014 Ford Fusion built at Hermosillo plant between May 11, 2012 and Oct 31, 2013

2013 – 2014 Ford Lincoln MKZ built at Hermosillo plant, between July 19, 2012 and Oct 31, 2013

2013 – 2015 Ford Escape built at Louisville plant between Dec 23, 2011 and Jan 31, 2015

2013 – 2015 Ford C-Max built at Michigan plant between Feb 2, 2012 and Jan 31, 2015

2014 Ford Fusion built at the Flat Rock assembly plant between June 18, 2013 and Oct 31, 2013

2014 – 2016 Ford Transit Connect built at Valencia Plant between August 9, 2013 and Feb 1, 2016 

2015 Ford Mustang built at Flat Rock plant between Feb 14, 2014 and April 30, 2015

2015 Lincoln MKC built at Louisville plant between Nov 18, 2013 and Jan 31, 2015

For additional information, owners can contact Ford by calling 1-800-392-3673 or visit www.corporate.ford.com. Reference recall number 20S30.

Ford has also issued a recall for 2014 – 2017 Ford F 150 vehicles equipped with the 3.5 liter Ecoboost engine, due to a problem with the master cylinder.  The master cylinder will leak brake fluid through the front wheel circuit into the brake booster.  The driver can experience a change in the feel in braking as well as a loss of braking effort in the front wheels.  The rear wheel brakes are unaffected.  The loss of braking power increases the risk of a crash.  292,311 vehicles are affected in the United States.  The affected vehicles have been identified as follows:

2015 – 2017 Ford F 150 built at the Dearborn plant between Oct 1, 2014 and Aug 1, 2016

2014 – 2017 Ford F 150 built at the Kansas City plant between Sept 1, 2014 and Aug 1, 2016

Dealers will replace the master cylinder and if necessary, replace the brake booster.  For additional information, owners can contact Ford at the telephone number or website address given above and reference recall number 20S31.

Nissan Recalls Altimas for Second Time

Nissan USA has issued a recall for their 2013 – 2018 Altima sedans for a problem with the hood latch.  Corrosion has been found to attack the primary hood latch and when it fails, it can prevent the secondary hood latch from engaging.  Failure to engage the latch can result in the hood flying open while the vehicle is moving, obstructing the driver’s view and resulting in a crash.  Driver’s can determine if the hood is about to open by watching whether it is fluttering or making noise as the vehicle is moving.  This recall is an extension of the original recall which was applied to 2013 – 2015 year models.  The current recall has included 2016 – 2018 Altimas.  All together the recall affects approximately 1.8 million vehicles.  It should be noted that if a vehicle has been previously repaired, it will have to be repaired again.  Nissan expects to begin notifying owners on August 1st.  For additional information owners can contact Nissan by calling 1-800-647-7261.  Owners can also contact their dealer for recall assistance.

Hyundai Recalls Sonata and Santa FE Sport Vehicles for Fuel Leaks

Hyundai Motor America is recalling 2013-2014 Hyundai Sonata vehicles due to a fuel leak that can occur in a low pressure fuel hose.  The hose in question connects the low pressure fuel pump to the direct injection fuel pump.  As a result of engine heat, the hose can crack over time resulting in fuel leakage that can become a fire hazard.  The recall affects approximately 206,896 vehicles.  Dealers will inspect the hose and replace it as necessary.  If no damage or leakage is found, dealers will wrap the hose in heat protective tape.  Repairs will be performed at no cost to the owner.  For additional information, owners can contact Hyundai customer service by calling 1-855-371-9460 and referencing recall number 189.  The NHTSA campaign number for this recall is 20V121000.

Hyundai Motor America is also recalling 2011-2014 Hyundai Sonata as well as 2013-2014 Santa Fe Sport Vehicles.  These vehicles were previously repaired under recall numbers 15V-568 and 17V-226 and affect approximately 150,730 vehicles.  During the repairs to these vehicles, the high pressure fuel pipe that attaches to the outlet of the fuel pump could have been improperly installed.  That is, the pipe could have been damaged, misaligned, or improperly torqued, resulting in fuel leakage from the pipe.  This is an outstanding recall that was begun March 1, 2019.  For additional information, owners can contact Hyundai customer service by calling 1-855-371-9460 and referencing recall number 180.  The NHTSA campaign number for this recall is 18V934000.  

Subaru Recalls Impreza and Other Vehicles

Subaru of America has issued a recall for approximately 188,207 model year 2019 Impreza, Outback, Legacy and Ascent vehicles.  These vehicles are equipped with a low pressure fuel pump that can become inoperative causing the vehicle to stall and possibly crash.  No details are available are on the cause of the sudden fuel pump failure.  However, Subaru expects to begin recalling vehicles on June 5, 2020.  Subaru will begin notifying owners and dealers will replace the low pressure fuel at no cost to owners.  For additional information, owners may contact Subaru by calling customer service at 1-844-373-6614 and referencing recall # WRD-20.  The NHTSA campaign number for this recall is 20V218000.

Subaru is also recalling 2017 – 2019 Impreza and 2018 – 2019 Crosstrek vehicles for a problem with the engine control module (ECM).  The recall affects approximately 466,205 vehicles.  A short circuit in the ECM could cause the vehicle to stall and subsequently crash.  The ECM has also been found to continue powering the ignition coil after the engine has been turned off.  Subaru has already begun notifying owners and dealers will update the ECM software and replace damaged ignition coils and exhaust pipes (as necessary) free of charge.  For additional information, owners can contact Subaru by calling customer service at 1-844-373-6614 and referencing recall # WUQ-02.  The NHTSA campaign number for this recall is 19V743000.

Jeep Wrangler and Gladiator Vehicles Recalled

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has announced that it has recalled 2018 – 2020 Jeep Wrangler and 2020 Jeep Gladiator vehicles equipped with manual transmissions.  These vehicles contain a clutch plate within the transmission that can overheat and fracture, posing a fire hazard.  If the fractured pieces crack the transmission casing and come in contact with combustible material, a fire can result.  Approximately 33,237 vehicles are involved in this recall.  Owners should be aware of signs indicating a problem: the sudden loss of power, burned clutch smell, and extra pedal travel when shifting gears.  At present, Fiat Chrysler is working on a repair but expects to begin recalling vehicles on April 22nd of this year.  Owners of affected vehicles will receive notices of the recall by mail.  For additional information, owners can contact Chrysler customer service by calling 1-800-853-1403 and referencing Chrysler recall # W12. 

Hyundai Recalls Elantra and Elantra Touring Vehicles

Hyundai Motor America has announced that it is recalling 429, 686 Elantra vehicles for a problem with the ABS (antilock braking system) module that can cause an engine fire.  The vehicles involved in this recall are: 2006 through 2011 Hyundai Elantra manufactured between August 26, 2005 and November 23, 2010; and 2007 through 2011 Hyundai Elantra Touring vehicles manufactured between June 21, 2007 and December 6, 2010.  It should be noted that the recalled vehicles are no longer in production.  The problem with the ABS module is that moisture can enter the module and cause the circuit board to short circuit.  The short circuit CAN occur even if the vehicle is turned off.  Hyundai Motor America plans to notify owners and request that they return their vehicles to their dealers for repair.  The repair will consist of the installation of a relay in the main junction box.  The intent is to deenergize the ABS module when the vehicle is turned off.  This repair will be performed at no cost to the vehicle owner – Hyundai plans to reimburse owners for out-of-pocket expenses.  It is recommended that owners communicate with their dealers and make sure they understand what allowable charges are and what will be reimbursed.  Notification of owners and dealers will begin in April 2020.  For additional information, owners can contact Hyundai by calling 800-633-5151 and referencing manufacturer recall number 188. 

Toyota Recalls Vehicles for Electronic Defect

NBC News is reporting that Toyota is recalling 3.4 million vehicles worldwide for an electronic defect that results in the failure of air bags to deploy.  2.9 million of the recalled vehicles have been identified as sold in the United States.  The recall applies to 2011 – 2019 Corolla, 2011 – 2013 Matrix, 2012 – 2018 Avalon, and 2013 – 2018 Avalon Hybrid.  The problem with the electronic circuit is that it is not adequately protected against electrical noise.  Electrical noise can occur during a crash and can result in incomplete or non-deployment of the air bags.  NBC is also reporting that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) expanded a probe last April which included approximately 12 million vehicles for this air bag problem.  That probe also included the vehicles that Toyota is recalling.  In addition, the probe involved vehicles manufactured between 2010 and 2019 and sold by Fiat, Chrysler, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Mitsubishi, as well as Toyota.  Owners of any of these vehicles should check with their local dealers to see if their vehicle has been recalled for this particular problem.  Toyota owners can also visit Toyota’s website at www.toyota.com, scroll to the bottom of the page and click on “Safety Recalls”, then enter their vehicle identification number to determine if their has been recalled.

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; and 2019 Lexus NX 300, RX 350L, and GS 300.  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.

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