Fire Hazard Prompts Ford to Recall 2 Million F-150s

The National Highway Safety Administration, NHTSA, has announced that Ford has recalled approximately 2 million F-150 pick up trucks.  The recall applies to 2015 -2018 F-150 regular and super crew cab pick up trucks.  The seatbelt pretensioner can generate sparks when activated during a sudden stop.  The sparks can ignite flammable material located inside the “B” pillar post including carpeting and insulation.  Ford has also identified the manufacturers of the seatbelts.  Joyson supplied the seatbelts for the 2015 to 2017 models while ZF supplied the belts for the 2018 year models.  Approximately 1.62 million vehicles were sold in the United States, 340,000 vehicles were sold in Canada and 37,000 were sold in Mexico.  The recall is expected to begin on September 24, 2018 with Ford notifying owners.  The Ford recall identification number for this recall is 18S27.  NHTSA’s campaign number is 18V568000.  For additional information, consumers can contact Ford by calling 1-866-436-7332 or visiting Ford’s website at www.ford.com.

 

 

 

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Craigslist and Recalled Products

ABC News has reported that Craigslist is allowing users to post ads in an attempt to sell recalled products. It is against the law to knowingly sell recalled items.  Please be careful when purchasing any manufactured item, whether from Craigslist, Ebay, or any other forum where products are offered on an “as is” condition.  Before you buy do a little homework; it might save you a lot of pain in the future.  Get the name of the manufacturer, model and serial numbers.  Go to the manufacturer’s website and check for a recall on the item.  If you can’t find the item, check the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s website; www.cpsc.gov to see if they have any recalls for the product.  By law, manufacturers are required to report defects to the CPSC as soon as they learn about a problem.  If you find a recalled product – STAY AWAY FROM IT!  Remember, products are recalled because there is the possibility of personal injury or property damage or both.  In either case, working through a serious injury or property damage can be expensive and time consuming.

Buick Lacrosse Fires Caused by Faulty HDM Module?

During a recent investigation, it was learned that there have a number of complaints (posted on–line) concerning the inadvertent failure of headlights in Buick Lacrosse vehicles. The vehicle that we were working on was a 2009 year model but, the problem is apparently in 2007 year models as well. Basically, the complaint centers on drivers noticing that their headlights are going out for no reason while driving at night. Sometimes the headlights will come back on. The problem is not as noticeable during the day if the headlights are also used as day running lights. In the case that was investigated, a small fire erupted in the fuse block and specifically the HDM (Headlight Drivers Module) module. As a result, the wiring harness that is connected to the HDM module was also damaged and had to be replaced. It was later learned that headlight failure was also a symptom that had occurred at an earlier time. Although the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has recorded 13 complaints regarding 2009 Buick Lacrosse Vehicles, four complaints are directly related. As of the date of this blog entry, no recall for the HDM modules has been issued by NHTSA or General Motors.

Another Flushmate Recall

Back in June of 2012, we blogged about a recall from Flushmate that involved exploding toilet tanks. That recall involved 2.2 million pressure assisted flushing systems where the pressurized tank could fail and cause the porcelain toilet tank to break apart in an explosion-like manner. Since that recall was made, Flushmate has continued to have problems with its products. As a result Flushmate has issued another recall for approximately 351,000 Flushmate III pressure assisted flushing system tanks. The problem is still the same. That is, the tanks fail at the weld seam and release water under whatever supply pressure is available. The pressure is usually enough to break a porcelain toilet tank and cause substantial water damage to property. The destruction of the porcelain tank can also cause serious personal injury.

The problem with PEX Pipe

Cross-linked polyethylene or PEX pipe has been on the plumbing market for a several years and has been accepted by most plumbers as an acceptable substitute for copper piping in potable water systems.  There are at least two methods by which PEX pipe is manufactured and depending on the manufacturer, theirs is the best way.  However, regardless of the method of manufacture, PEX pipe has a couple of drawbacks.  PEX pipe is subject to degradation by exposure to chlorine, ultraviolate radiation, and rough handling.  I bring this up because I am presently working on a case involving extensive water damage due to a leaky PEX pipe.  It seems that the pipe cracked longitudinally and released a great deal of water into the crawl space causing damage to the subflooring and consequently, the interior flooring as well.  This scenario isn’t unusual. But, after the hot water line was repaired, a second crack developed in the same line, only days after the first crack was replaced.  To make matters worse, a short time later, a third crack occurred, again, in the same hot water line.  It almost seems that the fact that a hot waterline is involved has something to do with the failures and there are accounts on-line of people having similar problems.  However, according to the manufacturer, as long as the conditions of the water do not exceed 80 psi and 140 deg, the piping shouldn’t be affected.  In addition, as long as the chlorine level is below 3500 parts per million, again, the piping should not be affected.  I’m not sure how accurate that information is since it tends to conflict with the pressure and temperature information written on the exterior pipe wall.  As for the chlorine level,  I have found reports stating that chlorine will continually degrade PEX piping, the greater the concentration, the shorter the service life.  I have also found that the failures affecting PEX pipe currently are similar to the type of failures that were affecting polybutylene pipe, for which there was a massive recall.  As far as I can tell, there are currently no recalls for  PEX pipe.

Flushmate Does it Again

ABC News and the Consumer Safety Products Commission have reported that Flushmate has recalled 2.3 million pressurized toilet tanks due to their explosive nature.  Back in August of 2011 we blogged about this problem and included some photographs showing how dangerous these products can be.  If you look at these photographs, you have to wonder how anyone could survive this kind of explosive force.  Imagine being hit in the back with a porcelain chard. Imagine being paralyzed because your spinal cord was severed or having a brain injury because your skull was sliced open by something that is knife sharp and flying like a bullet.  To date, 304 reports of bursting and 14 reports of impact or laceration have been received.  The recall that was reported involved the Flushmate II and Flushmate III products, series 503, manufactured between October of 1997 and February of 2008.  These are the same products that were recalled in the late 90s for the same problem!  The units were sold at Home Depot and Lowes Home Improvement stores. The original recall stated that the company would provide a free replacement.  The current recall does not state what the company intends to do.  However, it is recommended that consumers not accept a replacement Flushmate product.  Instead, request that the company replace the damaged porcelain tank along with its product with a new porcelain tank and conventional fill valve and stopper. For additional information, consumers can contact Flushmate by calling 1-800-303-5123 or visit their website at http://flushmate.com/recall/.

Electric Power Steering

In a previous blog article, I discussed how complicated products were becoming as a result of the rapidly changing technology industry.  In another example of complex technology, electric power steering is replacing hydraulic power steering.  For the most part, this isn’t news.  Two years ago however, GM began recalling 2010 Chevrolet Cobalt vehicles because the power steering motor would fail.  Keep in mind that in a hydraulic system, pressurized fluid would assist the driver in turning the front wheels either left or right.  In an electric system, the power steering motor does this job.  But, when it fails, power steering disappears.  When power steering disappears, more effort is required from the driver in order to maintain control of the vehicle.  If the driver is unprepared for the additional strength required, then the risk of a crash increases. This is also true for a hydraulic system.  It is understood that the power steering motor depends upon input from sensor(s) in order to determine the steering wheel’s position and whether to move the front wheels right or left.  GM has stated in their recall that the power assist will return the next time that the vehicle is restarted.  This statement implies that somehow, something in the motor has a tendency to fix itself and return to normal until the next time the “something” decides to cause the motor to fail.  It should be noted that although not proven, the power steering motor might have a tendency to alternately stop operating and then start again causing the steering wheel to oscillate back and forth. Doing so, will likely cause the vehicle to move sideways, back and forth.  We are investigating a situation with just this type of movement.  Just one more thing for the driving public to have to worry about. If you have experienced a power steering problem you are urged to have it checked.  The recall for this vehicle can be seen on the NHTSA website or on the GM website.

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