RANT: NHTSA Video is WRONG and Dangerous

This video from NHTSA advises NOT to pump your brakes if you experience brake line failure due to corrosion. This is WRONG. Pumping the brakes replaces lost fluid and generates more braking pressure so the vehicle can be brought under control. ABS only “pumps the brakes” when it senses that a wheel could lock or skid. If a vehicle loses brake system hydraulic fluid, the ABS system will not activate because the brakes can’t lock. Idiots.

RANT: NHTSA’s NCAP Automatic Emergency Braking Plan Leaves A lot of Questions

Last week, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced as a way to create consumer demand they want automatic emergency braking technologies listed in its New Car Assessment Program (NCAP) information sticker for a new vehicle. This information can be found online and on the window sticker of a new car.

Monroney-safety-ratingsNCAP ratings is like the Yelp rating system for cars. Some people will not buy cars that have a low star rating. Currently, the NCAP uses frontal, side and rollover crash testing to determine the star rating. While the NCAP information does include rearview cameras, electronic stability control, lane departure and front collision warning, these do not count into the overall star rating.

I hate to break it to NHTSA that automatic emergency braking systems are not standardized. One system may take over at 20mph while another kicks in at 35mph. One system may have front sensors while another system may detect only the driver quickly removing their foot from the brake pedal. Yes, they will decrease the severity of some impacts, but it is difficult to measure.

Crash imminent braking and dynamic brake support systems can intervene by automatically applying the vehicle’s brakes or supplementing the driver’s braking effort to mitigate the severity of the crash or to avoid it altogether.

In a 2012 report, NHTSA estimated automatic braking systems could potentially prevent approximately 40,000 minor/moderate injuries and 640 serious-to-critical injuries and save approximately 40 lives, annually.

What they fail to realize is the human factor AEB systems. First, automakers will continue to put the responsibility for higher speed braking on the driver due to liability. Second, NHTSA is failing to take into account driver ignorance and the amount of education need to get drivers to understand these systems.

dash-board-warning-lights-03 (1)In a survey of British drivers, it revealed that 98% of drivers don’t fully understand the most common dash board lights. America has a less stringent driver education program, and I can guarantee 99% of American drivers could not identify all the lights on their dash including the ABS and ESC.

Collision standards do not change dramatically as the vehicle ages, a five star is a five star at 10,000 or 100,000 miles (unless there is damage). Braking performance can change as pads, rotors and calipers age. Also, cheap replacement brake pads can diminish the performance of new safety systems.

Also, there is no standard or FMVSS regulation for automatic emergency braking at this time. This means the newly recommended NCAT listing could be useless to consumers when comparing vehicles.

Nissan Settles Lawsuit Over Bad Brakes

According to court documents, Nissan North America has agreed to reimburse customers up to $800 each to resolve a lawsuit alleging that defects in certain vehicles caused brakes to fail without warning.

The settlement agreement, filed on Friday, would affect current or former owners of Nissan Armadas, Infiniti QX56s or certain Nissan Titans, all model years 2004 to 2008. About 350,000 vehicles nationwide.

Plaintiffs had sought reimbursement for monetary losses, including expenses incurred for replacement or repairs. It does not include claims for physical injuries.

Under the agreement, Nissan, the U.S. subsidiary of Japan-based Nissan Motor Co. Ltd., would reimburse class members between $20 and $800, depending the age and mileage of the vehicle.

The settlement papers did not state how much Nissan could pay overall to class members. The company also agreed not to oppose up to $3.45 million in legal fees and expenses for the plaintiffs’ lawyers.

A Nissan spokesman and lawyers for the plaintiffs did not respond to requests for comment.


Brake Line Issues Continue To Fester With GM Truck Owners

According to ConsumerAffairs, more and more complaints are piling regarding rusted brake lines on their GM trucks and yet nothing is being done.

Articles dating back to early June indicate this problem has been doing more than festering, its been spreading almost like wildfire. GM states the brake line corrosion issue is a problem ‘industry wide’ but owners think the contrary.

GM went as far as saying it’s up to truck owners to maintain their vehicles. 

“Brake line wear on vehicles is a maintenance issue that affects the auto industry, not just General Motors,” GM spokesman Alan Adler said. “The trucks in question are long out of factory warranty and owners’ manuals urge customers to have their brake lines inspected. In fact, more than 20 states require brake line inspections at one- or two-year intervals or when stopped for a violation.”

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has been investigating reports of corrosion-related brake failure in 1999 through 2003 Silverado pickup trucks. NHTSA has received over 890 total consumer complaints about the problem, 761 of them from cold-weather states that use salt to clear ice from roadways.

For now, it doesn’t look like GM is doing anything about the issue. NHTSA has to first open up an investigation, find that the problems can be related to quality negligence by GM, and allow them 5 business days to issue a full recall. Any hesitation or in-execution of a recall can result in heavy fines.

Got a GM truck will corroded brake lines and fed up that GM won’t do anything about it? Write NHTSA and complain, maybe your complaint will be the one to trigger an investigation!

To file a safety complaint, click here. 

Hyundai Fined $17.35M For Failing To Issue Brake Recall

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said on Thursday that Hyundai has agreed to pay the $17.45M fine they had issued, after failing to notify regulators in a timely manner that certain components on 2009-2012 Hyundai Genesis sedans were in danger of corrosion, reducing their overall effectiveness in preventing a crash. The fine comes as auto makers and U.S. safety regulators face heightened scrutiny over the timeliness of safety recalls.

The safety agency said Hyundai was aware in 2012 that the brake fluid on these models didn’t sufficiently prevent corrosion, but instead of launching a safety recall instructed its dealers to just simply change the brake fluid. A quick fix, but nothing permanent.

NHTSA said it wasn’t aware of any fatalities linked to the Hyundai brake defect, but it did receive 87 consumer complaints suggesting difficulty with braking on the Genesis vehicles.

“NHTSA checks every recall for lack of timeliness and if the agency believes there is an issue it will take action as necessary,” the agency said in a statement. Federal law states car makers to report safety-defects to NHTSA within five days or face large penalties.

Senators Push GM CEO For Brake Corrosion Recall

Tomorrow, July 17th, General Motors CEO Mary Barra will return to Capitol Hill to be a witness, this time before the Senate Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety and Insurance.

Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) and Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) have been two active role players in the ongoing press to hold GM accountable, citing specific incidents like the deadly ignition switch and infamous corroded brake line kits. 

But unfortunately for GM, that’s just the tip of the iceberg on topics to be discussed during the meeting on Thursday.

According to data by the National League and Policy Center, GM nets over 30 complaints per 100K vehicles, 6 times the average number of complaints for Chrysler. With over 25 different models recalled and over 7 million cars recalled since June 30th, the need for change is quickly becoming more conspicuous on Capitol Hill. So far, GM has already racked up a recall cost of 2.5 billion, completely obliterating their profit for the 2nd quarter and it doesn’t look like it will stop there.

GM recently forked over 35 million to NHTSA in fines, but after tomorrow who knows where that number could be. How much is enough for a settlement? 

GM has hired Kenneth Feinberg, who administered funds for victims of the 9/11 attacks and the Boston Marathon bombings, to create and manage a fund to pay settlements to people who were injured and the families of those killed in accidents related to the ignition-switch defects.

So exactly how big will that check be when all is said and done? Right now we don’t know for sure. GM has said for a while that they know of “at least” 13 cases where someone died in an accident as a result of the defect, but it’s becoming clear that the total number of victims is probably a lot higher.

GM’s pattern of concealing potentially serious safety issues from the public and circumventing the recall system is deeply troubling. From the now-infamous ignition problem, to the steering problems our earlier investigation uncovered, to this troubling brake corrosion issue, GM’s response to defect complaints has been consistent: deny, conceal, blame consumers, or claim that it’s a broader “industry-wide” problem, this must stop tomorrow.