Nissan to Begin Implementing Automatic Braking

 

Nissan North America has announced that it will begin adding automatic braking to its vehicles beginning with some 2018 models. The feature will use sensors, cameras or radar to detect objects and either stop or slow the vehicle down to reduce the impact of a collision.  Those vehicles that will have automatic braking will include Rogue, Rogue Sport, Maxima, Altima, Murano, Leaf, and Pathfinder vehicles.  Nissan has also pledged to equip 90% of its vehicles with the feature by 2020 and all of its vehicles by 2022. The move to incorporate automatic braking is in response to an agreement with the government signed by Nissan as well as Toyota, General Motors and others to incorporate the technology and hopefully reduce rear end collisions.

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Takata Air Bag Recall, Part 2

Back in May of this year, it was announced that Takata had recalled its air bags used in several different vehicle manufacturer’s vehicles.  According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Takata has extended that recall to include 19 million vehicles from 12 manufacturers.  The current list of manufacturers includes BMW, Honda, Mazda, Chrysler, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Daimler Trucks North America, Daimler Vans USA, Subaru, Ford, Toyota, and General Motors.  Owners are advised to go to www.safercar.gov and click on the “Takata Recall” button on the toolbar to see of their specific vehicle is on the list of those recalled.  Note that the list is extensive and should be reviewed carefully.  The website also offers owners an option to enter their vehicle identification numbers to check for recalls.  The vehicle identification number can be found on most vehicles on the lower left corner of the windshield or the manufacturers sticker located on the inside edge of the driver’s side door or pillar.  The vehicle identification number is a seventeen digit number unique to each vehicle.  Owners can also check with their dealers for recall information.

Takata Airbag Recall

Earlier this year, several automobile manufacturers announced recalls of different vehicle makes as a result of faulty airbags manufactured by a Japanese company called Takata.  Takata manufactured airbags for both driver and passenger’s sides in the recalled vehicles.  After investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and others, it has been determined that the propellant used in the airbags has a tendency to deteriorate in humid areas.  As a result, when the airbag is deployed, the combustion of the propellant which produces the pressure to inflate the bag can do so with greater than necessary force.  The excessive force can cause the inflator to rupture sending pieces of metal to the occupant of either the driver or passenger seat resulting in greater risk of injury to the occupant.  The vehicles that are involved in this recall are Acura, BMW, Chrysler, Dodge, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Infiniti, Lexus, Mazda, Nissan, Subaru, and Toyota.  The recall covers models years generally from 2002 through 2008.  In order to determine if the recall applies to a specific vehicle, owners can go to the manufacturer’s website and use its VIN lookup tool or contact a dealer and ask to speak with a service writer then give that person the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN).

Hyundai Sonata Recall

I just finished posting a recall to our website which talks about how Hyundai is recalling 883,000 Sonata vehicles for a defective automatic transmission shift cable. I know that there have been larger numbers of vehicles recalled by other manufacturers but, this isn’t about the numbers. It’s about whether manufacturers have learned anything. You would think that as long as cars and trucks have been built, especially here in the US, that manufacturers would have a handle on keeping problems to a minimum. But, how does a faulty ignition switch get by a company like General Motors? Ford and Chrysler have had their problems as well. One only has to do a little research to find something that had a significant impact on the company’s bottom line. Remember Ford’s electronic ignition that caused fires in F 150s back in the lat 90s? Remember the Jeep sudden acceleration/inadvertent movement that wouldn’t go away? The problems aren’t limited to American made vehicles. The Japanese have had their share of recalled vehicles as well. Remember the Toyota floor mat fiasco? If all of the people that worked for all of the world’s car manufacturers were put under one roof, there has to be an untold number of millennia of experience and yet, recalls are a part of everyone’s life.

Sudden/Unintended Accelerration

The problem of sudden or unintended acceleration has been around for over ten years now, mostly associated with Jeeps. But,  recently another of Toyota’s problems. Since about 2006, most vehicles have been equipped with something called an event data recorder (EDR) or a crash data recorder (CDR), otherwise known as a “blackbox”. These devices are programmed to record certain events just prior to and during a crash event. In order to access the recorded data, special equipment must be used. It is understood that the readers that are used are commercially available but, only from a limited source and are very expensive. It should also be noted that manufacturer’s dealers do not have these instruments (or at least are not publicly advertised). Vehicle manufacturers want to be able  to control the data in case it reveals a defect within their vehicle. As a result, if an EDR or CDR is to be read, it has to be removed from the vehicle and sent to the manufacturer unless an individual party with access to a reader can be located. If the problem of sudden acceleration is to be properly addressed, manufacturers have to come clean. If there is a problem with a vehicle, the manufacturer should take over the problem, fix it and stop trying to hide it in order to keep from being sued. The problem has been around long enough that all American manufacturers are aware of it. So much so that a little research will produce articles about GM, Ford and Chrysler making their own deals to have data recorders made and  programmed  for their vehicles. There are those that feel that the problem is the result of driver error. That is, driver’s inadvertenly step on the accelerator instead of  the brake pedal or step on both pedals at the same time. If this is what is happening, then how is that driver’s are confusing the pedals? Have manufacturer’s compacted the floor space so much that pedal location is confusing drivers? If so, isn’t this a manufacturing defect that should be addressed by the manufacturers?

Government’s report on Toyota’s sudden acceleration problem

The government released its findings yesterday (2/8/11) and if you haven’t heard, there is nothing wrong with the electronics in Toyota vehicles that cause them to suddenly accelerate. According to the Associated Press, NASA engineers were involved in testing the vehicles in question. So much so, that we, the consuming public are supposed to get a warm and fuzzy feeling that all is right with the world and Toyota has our backs when it comes to safety in their vehicles. Wait a minute!  Are all the people that experienced sudden acceleration problems crazy? Did they fabricate their stories in an attempt to defraud Toyota? Is this a massive conspiracy? Common sense says no way! There are way too many incidents to discount. Just because the NASA people didn’t find a cause doesn’t mean that they were looking in the right place or running the right tests. Maybe there has to be more history before the cause can be found.  Random events occur  in the workings of electronics. I can’t prove what they are much less prove they occur. If this were possible, then I or someone else would be able to explain the sudden acceleration problem. In my dealings with machines that are electronically controlled, I have seen inadvertent movements that have been unexplainable. For example, I have investigated electronically controlled washing machines that, for no explainable reason, allow their front loading doors to open when the wash tub in filled with water. Needless to say, people are complaining and I don’t have any answers. But, something is obviously happening to cause the doors to open when they are supposed to be electronically locked. I don’t mean to place the damage caused by wash water on the same level as that of a vehicular accident. But, what I am saying is that I believe that something happens that takes control of the machines that we are supposed to have control over and sometimes, hurts us.

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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