Ford Recalls Trucks and SUVs

The Ford Motor Company has recalled approximately 350,000 vehicles due to a problem with the transmission.  The vehicles involved are: 2018 Ford F 150 built in Dearborn between January 5, 2017 and February 6, 2018; 2018 Ford F 150 built in Kansas City between January 25, 2017 and February 16, 2018; 2018 Ford Expedition built in Kentucky between April 3, 2017 and January 30, 2018; and 2018 Ford F650 and 750 trucks built in Ohio between April 25, 2017 and March 9, 2018.  All of these vehicles contain an automatic transmission gear shift cable locking clip that was not properly seated.  As a result, the transmission might NOT be in “Park” after the driver has shifted into “Park” and could possibly roll away after the driver has left the vehicle.  Dealers will inspect vehicles free of charge and make adjustments accordingly.  For additional information, consumers can contact Ford by calling 1-800-392-3673.

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Death by Driverless Car

A number of news outlets are already reporting the first pedestrian death that occurred when an autonomous vehicle struck and killed a woman in Tempe Arizona.  According to the news reports, the vehicle was operated by Uber with a human driver for safety.  The woman was crossing a street, at a point other than a crosswalk, with her bicycle.  It should be pointed out that, jaywalking is not recommended nor is it legal in most municipalities.   The vehicle, a Volvo XC90, failed to detect her presence, struck and killed her.  First and foremost, this is a prime example of the fact that we as a society are a long way from having autonomous vehicles take us where we want to go.  Second, there was a human being in the vehicle when the accident occurred, supposedly for safety purposes.  So, why didn’t he take the wheel and try to avoid hitting the woman?  Did the event present itself so suddenly that there wasn’t time for him to react?  Or was he so surprised by the woman’s appearance that he was stunned and couldn’t move?  It is possible that the woman walked into traffic in front of the Volvo with no thought about what she doing.  In that case, she was most likely at fault.  However, we are constantly being told that autonomous vehicles will be much safer and that the accident rate will go down when these vehicles are in common use.  But, what about when the car’s computer has to make an ethical decision?  What does the vehicle do when it has to decide whether to kill a pedestrian or crash into another vehicle and risk killing some or all of its occupants?  Speaking from a forensic standpoint, remember, the movements of the vehicle will be preprogrammed at the manufacturer’s factory based on various scenarios that drivers face everyday.  Are you ready to forfeit your life on the basis of what some programmer thinks is the right thing to do?

Ford Recalls Fusion and Lincoln MKZ Vehicles

The Ford Motor Company has announced that it is recalling approximately 1.3 million Fusion and Lincoln MKZ vehicles for a steering wheel problem.  Specifically, the steering wheel in these vehicles is loosening and could possibly detach from the steering column.  This recall applies to

2014 – 2017 Fusion vehicles built at the Flat Rock plant between August 6, 2013 and February 29, 2016;

2014 – 2018 Fusion vehicles built at the Hermosillo Mexico plant between July 25, 2013 and March 5, 2018; and

2014 – 2018 Lincoln MKZ vehicles built at the Hermosillo Mexico plant between July 25, 2013 and March5, 2018.

Dealers will replace the steering bolt at no cost to customers.  For additional information, customers can contact Ford by calling 1-800-392-3673 or on-line by visiting www.ford.com and searching recalls.  You have your vehicle identification number to do a search.

Hyundai Santa Fe Recall

The National Highway Traffic Administration has announced that Hyundai Motor America is recalling approximately 43,941 Santa Fe and Santa Fe Sport vehicles.  All of the vehicles involved in the recall are for model year 2018.  The problem with the vehicles is that the steering wheel can break and separate from the steering column resulting in a loss of control and possibly a crash.  Hyundai is planning to notify owners and will replace the steering wheel assembly free of charge if necessary.  The recall is expected to begin on March 16, 2018.  Hyundai’s recall number for this campaign is 173.  For additional information, consumers can contact Hyundai be calling customer service at 1-855-371-9460.

Maytag Dryer Electrocution and Fire Hazard

Recently, we investigated the case of a minor fire that occurred in an electric dryer.  The dryer was purchased through a local home improvement store and installed by their crew.  When the dryer was test started, the vent line immediately began smoking and burning.  The dryer was later examined at the retail store where it had been purchased.  It was subsequently determined that one of the line cord connections at the terminal block, apart from the ground wire, was somehow connected to the dryer housing.  This connection, in effect, had made the appliance electrically “live”.  As a result, touching any metal part of the housing and something else such as a metal water pipe could have caused significant injury to the user.  However, since this was a new appliance and had never been used, the installers would not have been aware of the condition.  Instead, when the dryer was started, the housing was not only electrified but, current traveled through the aluminum exhaust duct to ground.  The exhaust duct was burned because it could not withstand the amount of current flow.  The dryer in question is manufactured by Whirlpool under the Maytag brand and is a model number MEDC215EW.  There are currently no recalls for this model.  At present, it is unknown if this is an isolated incident or if other incidents have occurred.

Destructive Force of Ice

As most everyone knows, this winter has been hard on just about every corner of the country.  It’s been a very cold winter and the southeast has had its share of low temperatures.  For this reason, buildings that must be protected against fire sometimes have to use dry sprinkler systems.  Conventional systems that pressurize lines with water up to the sprinkler heads are impractical because the lines are usually routed through areas (such as attics) that are subject to falling below freezing.  As a result, the water in the lines can freeze and cause the lines to beak or burst.  When thawing occurs, water damage will also occur.  In order to prevent such damage, dry systems are employed.  That is, instead of filing the lines with water, the lines are pressurized with air.  Pressurized air serves to keep the main water valve closed until such time as a fire causes the sprinkler heads to open and relieve the pressure.  As the air pressure is relieved, the main water valve opens, water fills the lines, and exits through the open sprinkler heads to fight the fire.  However, there are times when water can get into the branch lines.  Water can enter when there is a loss of air pressure due to a leak in the system or when water is completely removed such as after a hydrostatic test.  The photos below show what happens to an iron pipe tee when water is frozen inside.  In one instance, the tee is broken in half whereas in the second instance, the tee is fractured on one end.  Note that both fittings came from the same job.  Ice typically expands between 9 and 12% by volume and as a result, places a tremendous amount of pressure on the fitting walls to cause failure.

Rheem Water Heater Recall

On May 26, 2016 Rheem recalled approximately 50000 electric water heaters.  The problem with the appliances was that the temperature control could overheat resulting in a fire.  The recall applied to 40, 50 and 60 gallon units.  Recently, we encountered a water heater where a fire had occurred and caused damage to the upper control area including the circuit board that controls the water temperature. In this instance, damage was limited to the upper front of the appliance and the ceiling of the closet where the water heater had been installed.  However, if the fire had gone unnoticed, the fire would have spread to the remainder of the structure causing significant damage.  Water heaters involved in this recall are still in circulation.   Consumers are advised to contact Rheem if they have an appliance that should be replaced before a fire occurs.  A copy of the recall is shown below along with Rheem’s contact information.

 

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