NHTSA’s Office of Defects Investigation opens investigation of 2011-2012 Ford F-150 full-size pickup trucks equipped with 3.5L GTDI engine over loss of brake power assist




The Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) has identified 32 complaints alleging electric vacuum assist pump failures resulting in loss of brake power assist and increased brake pedal effort in model year (MY) 2011-2012 Ford F-150 full-size pickup trucks equipped with 3.5L GTDI engine. None of the complaints reported any warning indicators to alert the driver of brake power assist loss or the potential of increased stopping distance. Two reports alleged crashes due to increased brake pedal effort required to stop or slow the vehicle. The complaints show an apparent increasing trend, with approximately 60 percent of complaints received within the past nine months. A Preliminary Evaluation has been opened to assess the cause, scope and frequency of the alleged defect.


Nissan named in class action lawsuit over premature failure of floorboards in 2002-2006 Nissan Altima automobiles

According to the complaint, Nissan sold 2002-2006  Altima’s without disclosing to consumers that Nissan had opted to install floorboards in the vehicles that do not withstand normal exposure to the elements, do not drain properly, and rust to the degree that the floorboards substantially deteriorate and allow visible exposure to the roadway beneath the vehicle (“Defect”).

As a result of the Defect, there has been at least one reported accident with injuries. Hundreds of other drivers have told Nissan and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that they feel unsafe driving their Class Vehicles. Because the replacement of the floorboard can cost several thousand dollars, and because Nissan refuses to recognize the existence of the Defect or to cover the full cost of repairs, many owners of Class Vehicles are not in a position to replace the defective floorboard when they discover the problem. Moreover, Nissan provides no assurances that any replacement floorboard will not suffer from the same problems.

Plaintiff brings this proposed class action on behalf of herself and all other Illinois owners of Nissan Altima automobiles for model years 2002-2006 (“Class Vehicles”) alleging that Nissan’s conduct violates Illinois law including the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act and the Illinois Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act.


NHTSA opens investigation of door latch failure and inadvertent opening on model year 2011-2013 Ford Fiesta vehicles

On September 11, 2014 the Office of Defects Investigation (ODI)of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) opened Preliminary Evaluation PE14-028 to investigate claims of doors failing to latch and/or inadvertently opening on model year 2011-2013 Ford Fiesta vehicles. ODI has received 207 unique reports related to the alleged problem, with sixty-five claiming that the door(s) opened inadvertently while the vehicle was in motion. Two injuries were reported, both caused by a rebounding door striking a consumer after they attempted to close it. In response to ODI’s Information Request (IR) letter, Ford Motor Company (Ford) responded with 451 unique reports related to the alleged problem.  Ford also submitted 1,079 warranty claims related to door latch failures. Additionally, Ford informed ODI in its IR response that 2013 Ford Fusion and Lincoln MKZ vehicles utilize the same door latch as the 2011-13 Fiesta. ODI has received 11 reports on these vehicles, with 4 allegations of inadvertent opening.

According to the ODI, Ford stated that it does not believe that a latched door experiencing this condition will inadvertently unlatch and that there are many overt warnings associated with a door that does not latch.

ODI noted that the rate of occurrence for this failure is comparable to other door latch failure investigations and questions the effectiveness of warning signals given the number of complainants alleging that the door(s) opened while the vehicle was in motion. As a result ODI upgraded the investigation to further assess the scope, frequency and consequence of this failure.

If this has happened to, please share your story.

***** UPDATE ******

Ford Motor Company is issuing a safety recall for approximately 390,000 2012-2014 Ford Fiesta and 2013-2014 Ford Fusion and Lincoln MKZ vehicles for a door latch issue. The door latch in these vehicles may experience a broken pawl spring tab, which typically results in a condition where the door will not latch. If a customer is then able to latch the door, there is potential the door may unlatch while driving, increasing the risk of injury.

Ford is aware of two allegations of soreness resulting from an unlatched door bouncing back when the customer attempted to close it, and one accident allegation when an unlatched door swung open and struck an adjacent vehicle as the driver was pulling into a parking space.

Affected vehicles include certain 2012-2014 Ford Fiesta vehicles built at Cuautitlán Assembly Plant, Feb. 1, 2012 to May 31, 2013; certain 2013-2014 Ford Fusion vehicles built at Hermosillo Assembly Plant, July 1, 2012 to May 31, 2013; and certain 2013-2014 Lincoln MKZ vehicles built at Hermosillo Assembly Plant, July 1, 2012 to May 31, 2013.

There are approximately 390,000 vehicles in North America (actual 389,585), including 336,873 in the United States and federalized territories, 30,198 in Canada and 22,514 in Mexico.

Dealers will replace all four door latches at no cost to the customer.

Investigation of 2013-2014 Toyota Camry, Avalons, Siennas, and Tacomas, and 2014 Corollas or Tundras over potentially defective seat heaters

Toyota announced that it would stop the sale of Camrys, Avalons, Siennas, Tacomas, Corollas and Tundras because of a defective seat heaters that contain padding that does not meet flammability standards. While Toyota felt it was important to prevent the further sale of 36,000 of its vehicles equipped with these seat heaters, it has refused to recall the 2013-14 models it has already sold, claiming it is not a significant safety risk

Ironically, the problem was discovered by a safety agency in South Korea. The Korean Automotive Test and Research Institute, which found that the fabric backing material used near seat heaters did not meet U.S vehicle flammability standards

Toyota has recently been plagued with a variety of problems in its vehicles and has not always been responsive to consumer safety concerns.  Lawyers have opened an investigation of this matter and are interested in speaking with of 2013-2014 Toyota Camry, Avalons, Siennas, and Tacomas, and 2014 Corollas or Tundras that are equipped with seat heaters.

If you are interested in speaking with an attorney about your legal rights, please use the contact box below.  If you would like to share your experiences on this issue we also welcome your public post.

Volkswagen sued over defectively short design of the wiring harness in 2005-2006 Jetta vehicles

Beginning in 2005 and continuing into 2006 models, Defendant Volkswagen designed, manufactured and sold Volkswagen Jetta model vehicles with defective door wiring harnesses The wiring harness was defectively designed in that it was too short. As a result of the defectively short design of the wiring harness, it is only a matter of time before wiring harnesses in the defective Jetta Models develop a short in the electrical circuit. Indeed, many of the defective Jetta Models have already experienced problems caused by the defectively designed door wiring harness.

The problems that are experienced when the wiring harness in a defective Jetta develops a short in the electrical circuit almost always have the same or similar symptoms and are easily identified. The common experiences include a loss of some or all of the controls located on the door that contains the defective wiring harness, including failure of the power window controls, gas latch release, trunk release and power mirror controls.

As alleged, Defendant knew that the door wiring harnesses were too short at the time that they sold them to the Plaintiff and Class Members. Defendant knew it had made the wiring harnesses 80mm shorter to save costs and that this would lead to premature breaking of the wiring in the door wiring harnesses.

The class consists of all entities and natural persons who purchased a Volkswagen Jetta manufactured between January 1, 2005 to January 1, 2006.

BMW named in class action over alleged failure of “Shift-by-Wire” gearshift systems

BMW 7-Series automobiles, model years 2002-2008 (the “Vehicles”) have push-buttons (“Start/Stop” button) to control starting and stopping the engine, and “Shift-by-Wire” gearshift systems controlled by a lever behind the steering wheel. Shift-by-Wire gearshift systems replace the traditional mechanical connection (e.g., cable or linkage) between the gearshift and automatic transmission with n electronic connection controlled by a computer module. The computer module is also referred to by BMW as a “serial bus system.”

As alleged in the complaint, the Shift-by-Wire system is a component of the overall electronically controlled transmission system of the Vehicles. The Vehicles’ electronically controlled automatic transmission system is designed to automatically shift the Vehicle into Park under a variety of conditions, including after the driver has pressed the “Start/Stop” button to turn the engine off, and when the “Park” button on the gearshift lever has been engaged.

Additionally, a subset of these Vehicles was equipped with a “Comfort Access System,” (“CAS”), which allows a driver to start the Vehicle without inserting the key device into the ignition; instead the CAS remotely senses the presence of the key device and enables the “Start/Stop” button. The key device can then be inserted into the ignition, or not, at the driver’s option.

Many consumers have reported problems with the Vehicles’ electronically controlled transmission system. For example, after pressing the “Start/Stop” button to turn the engine off, the Vehicle appears to be in Park but, in fact, remains in Neutral and, in some instances, shifts into Reverse and the Vehicle starts to roll away after the driver has exited believing that the Vehicle is in Park.

There are approximately 122,000 BMW 7-Series model year 2002-2008 automobiles equipped with “Start/Stop” buttons and “Shift-by-Wire” gearshift systems which are at risk for the rollaway problem because of BMW’s defective electronically controlled transmission system. An estimated subset of 45,000 of these Vehicles were equipped with CAS. The issue is so significant that the Office of Defect Investigations (“ODI”) of the National Highway Transportation Administration (“NHTSA”) opened a Preliminary Evaluation in August 2011 (NHTSA Action Number PE 11-025), which was recently upgraded to an Engineering Analysis in April 2012 (NHTSA Action Number EA12-002), to further study the problem. According to the NHTSA issued investigation summary (the “NHTSA Report”), the agency has reviewed more than 50 complaints about the problem, including reports of at least sixteen crashes, with at least five crashes resulting in injuries.

CLASS:  All persons or entities who purchased or leased new or used model year 2002-2008 BMW 7-Series vehicles (“the Vehicles”) between the period 2001 through the present that are equipped with push-button ignition and electronically controlled transmission system with a “Shift-by-Wire” gearshift system.