Potential Kia Defect

About a week ago, something was brought to my attention which might be the basis for somebody’s lawsuit in the future. My son’s girlfriend was involved in a two vehicle accident, luckily no one was hurt.  My son’s girlfriend was driving a 2015 Kia Soul when the right front corner of her car was hit by another driver trying to run a red light.  The Kia sustained damage to the right front fender, bumper, and headlights.  As accident’s go, this one seemed to have been relatively minor.  However, after her insurance adjuster inspected the car, she decided to total the car.  The adjuster found that a wire that controlled the deployment of the side airbags had been severed during the crash.  As a result, the airbag circuit could be repaired by splicing the wire which wasn’t surprising.  What was surprising was that instead of replacing the wiring harness that controlled the air bags, the entire car had to be rewired!  This meant that the entire body had to be removed and the frame exposed in order to do the work.  This of course, meant that the amount of labor plus the wiring amounted to more than the car was worth, which is why it was totaled.  Now, the potential defect lies in the fact the if the wiring can be severed in a low speed (less than 30 mph) accident causing the side airbags not to deploy, then the protection of the wiring is inadequate.  If the wiring can be severed causing the side airbags to fail, then the defect defeats the purpose of having airbags in the first place.  Has anyone else had this problem?

Commercial Truck Investigations

R.J. Hill Consulting has recently completed two investigations into the cause of destruction of two large commercial trucks.  One investigation involved a vehicular accident and a possible brake defect while the other investigation involved an engine fire.  In the case of the accident, the brakes were found to have been completely assembled and operational.  In the second case, the fire could have been attributed to at least two different scenarios: a wiring harness that rubbed against an unknown metallic object (such as a wire braided hydraulic hose) that caused a short circuit to occur and the fire ensue.  In the second scenario, a faulty electrical connection at a breaker possibly resulted in overheating of the connection and ignition of combustible material.  Since no definitive cause was identified, the cause of the fire was ruled undetermined.

General Electric Pays $3.5 million Civil Penalty

The Consumer Product Safety Commission has reported that it has come to an agreement with General Electric regarding an imposed penalty for not reporting defects in two of its product lines. The products were identified as the “Profile” dual fuel ranges and “Profile and Monogram” dishwashers. According to the CPSC, press release number 15-082 dated February 19, 2015; General Electric had been notified about overheating of a wiring harness connector back in 2004 but did not report the problem until 2009. It was further determined that the overheating of the connector could also pose a fire hazard. In April of 2009, General Electric recalled 28,000 dual fuel ranges because of the hazard. Furthermore, the CPSC has determined that the control board in “Profile” and “Monogram” dishwashers can short circuit as result of the buildup of condensation on the boards. The short circuiting can also pose fire and burn hazards. According to the CPSC, General Electric had known about the problem since 2007 but failed to report the defect to the CPSC until 2010. Instead, the company chose to settle claims and make payments based on reports of defective units. In October of 2010, the company recalled 174,000 units.

Federal law requires manufacturers, distributors and retailers to notify the CPSC immediately after learning of a potential defect in a product that could be hazardous to consumers. Consumers can report a dangerous product by going on line to www.saferproducts.gov or calling the CPSC hotline at 1-800-638-2772.

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.

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