NHTSA Announces September Vehicle Safety Recalls

Hyundai, Kia, Daimler Trucks and Subaru have issued recall notices for vehicles with defects ranging from faulty air bags to faulty anti-crash technology and unstable moon roofs, and federal safety officials are investigating a possible defect with service jacks for some Ford minivans that may have led to a person’s death.

The recalls, announced this month by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), apply to a combined 290,000 vehicles from 2006 through 2012 model years.

NHTSA announced that its Office of Defect Investigations (ODI) has received five complaints and one manufacturer report claiming that jacks for 2004-05 Ford Freestar and Mercury Monterey minivans can suddenly fail while being used, causing the vehicle to fall.

According to NHTSA, a report alleges a person died while working on a vehicle that was supported only by one of the jacks, which gave way.

Officials with the federal agency are probing any possible safety defect with the jacks. The agency said in a statement that it does not recommend using a jack for anything but changing a tire.

Hyundai is recalling more than 205,000 Veracruz and Santa Fe model vehicles because a part involved in the driver’s air bag supplemental restraint system may become damaged, potentially resulting in the safety device not deploying in the event of a crash.

The recall notice applies to 2007-08 models.

Deployed air bagKia issued a recall for more than 10,600 Sorento cars built in 2007 and 2008, warning that the front passenger air bag may be turned off when an adult is in the passenger seat.

The device is meant to be switched off for safety reasons in some situations in which children or small adults occupy the seat.

But the vehicle’s occupant classification system can wrongly classify who is sitting there, according to the company.

Daimler is recalling roughly 4,700 trucks, saying that vehicles built with certain electronic stability control (ESC) systems that are meant to reduce the likelihood of a rollover or other crash can actually increase the odds of crashing.

According to NHTSA, vehicle movement and road inclination can cause the ESC systems to perceive over-steering on the part of the driver and attempt to stabilize the vehicle. That could cause the truck to “deviate from its intended line of travel” and crash.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says ESC systems use computer-controlled braking of individual wheels to maintain vehicle stability.

Safety experts and insurance industry officials say ESC, which federal regulations require for all light vehicles built from this month forward, has the potential to save many lives.

NHTSA estimates the systems could prevent as many as 9,600 fatalities and 238,000 injuries a year when they are installed on all new cars.

And because getting into an accident affects auto insurance premiums in many cases, they could also save policyholders money by decreasing the chances of getting into a crash.

The Daimler recall is for model year 2006-2012 Freightliner Business Class M2, Cascadia, Century, Columbia, Coronado and Sterling A-Line vehicles with Meritor Wabco ESC systems.

Also this month, Subaru announced a recall of about 69,600 model year 2011 Outback and Legacy vehicles. According to the manufacturer, the moonroof glass may come loose because adhesive was inadequately applied. That could create a hazard if it happens while the vehicles are on the road.

More information on these and other recalls is available on the NHTSA website.

About Gregor McGavin
Gregor McGavin is an award-winning journalist who has reported across the country for such publications as The Associated Press, the Arizona Republic, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and the Press-Enterprise.

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