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Industry News

Important info from government agencies and the automotive industry

After more than thirty years, GM’s Mr. Goodwrench has retired.

Mr. Goodwrench was originally created to put a friendly face on your local GM service technician, promoting quality and efficient service and repairs. His retirement hit home with me because I was Mr. Goodwrench for thirty years!

It was the summer of 1982. REO Speedwagon’s “Keep on Loving You” dominated the charts and Raiders of the Lost Ark played on movie screens across the country. It was August—just days after MTV played its first videos and nearly everyone was wearing Jellie shoes, headbands, and  legwarmers. I was seven and living in Virginia, down the road from my cousins, Bobby, Mike, and Christy.

Even before I knew anything about boys, I knew my cousin Mike was popular with the ladies. He had a ton of girls after him and whenever someone would tease him about being a ladies man, he would drop his eyes and smile softly ... so humble. He was good looking, fun, and athletic. I idolized him.

Today, the Toyota Corporation announced a recall of nearly 1.53 million vehicles due to brake fluid and fuel pump problems. The recall affects Lexus, Highlander, and Avalon models and includes 740,000 cars in the U.S. and 599,000 in Japan, with the rest coming from other markets in Europe and around the world.

While no accidents have been reported, the two defects included in today’s recall are still potential safety issues. The brake master cylinder could leak oil, which might illuminate the brake warning light, and lead to weaker braking power. Some models, mostly in Japan, have an electrical problem with the fuel pump that could cause engine stalling.

Yesterday, a recall was issued for more than 85,000 U.S. Mercedes-Benz models due to a steering flaw that can make the vehicles difficult to control. The voluntary recall affects the following models—the 2010 C-Class Model 204 and E- Class Model 212; and the 2010-11 E-Class Coupe/Cabriolet Model 207.

In the report, Daimler states that the power steering system may fail due to a loss of power steering fluid. Drivers may not have sufficient control over the vehicle, which could result in a crash, especially when maximum power steering is required, e.g. while parking.

Earlier this week, the Transportation Department and its National Highway Traffic Safety Administration introduced a more comprehensive crash rating system that will now include an "overall vehicle score,” which will combine the results of front and side crash tests, and rollover resistance tests. The system will then compare those results with the average risk of injury and the potential rollover of other vehicles. Here are some of the new changes:

Female crash dummies

BMW has issued a recall for it's 5-Series, 6-Series and 7-Series models that come equipped with the V8 and V12 Engines. An issue with the braking system may cause a partial or complete loss of power braking assist. 

It's unknown at this time exactly what actions will be taken, but having performed several recalls on European myself, this will likely consist of a visual inspection to identify if the component in question is leaking. If found leaking it may be repaired or replaced, and if it's not leaking some type of repair may occur to prevent future leakage.

Today, Ford announced a recall on over 500,000 Windstar Minivans due to rust accumulation that could cause the rear axles to fracture. The recall is for 1998–2003 models from twenty-one cold-weather states in the U.S. and Canada.

The issue was first picked up on in May 2010 when the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration started a preliminary evaluation of broken rear axles after receiving over 200 complaints. Accidents had also been reported, but no serious injuries. The number of complaints has now reached close to 1,000.

The Toyota Corporation issued a recall today on more than 1 million Corolla and Matrix vehicles due to stalling issues caused by defective electronic control modules. Only North American vehicles from model years 2005 to 2008 were affected.

The recall has been issued in response to over 1,000 complaints and unconfirmed reports of three accidents, including one minor injury.

General Motors is apparently recalling 1.5 million cars and trucks to correct a problem with the heating system for washer fluid.

We see the recall numbers come in every week, and the hundreds of thousands of vehicles is pretty common.  1.5 million vehicles over more than 3 model years is not that common, nor is it common to see a recall because of a fire hazard affect so many vehicles.  It will be interesting to see how much play this gets, given the recent furor over Toyota recalls.

Most hybrids on the road today use an electric motor to supplement a traditional gas or diesel engine. The very early versions from General Motors and Honda gain only what amounts to an "auto-stop" function which allows for the engine to turn off when the vehicle is stopped and turned back on again as the drivers begins to accelerate. The second generation hybrids (Toyota Prius, Ford Escape, and full size GM Trucks) began incorporating the electric motors inside the transmission and added larger batteries. This design allows some limited propulsion from the electric motors in addition to the auto-stop feature. None of these vehicles have the capability to charge the high voltage battery from a wall outlet in your garage.

Aftermarket companies have developed "plug-in" kits, mostly for the Prius which include a higher capacity battery and the ability to charge the high voltage battery from a standard electrical outlet. These "plug-in" hybrids offer an limited range where they can run on the electric motors only. The common bond with all of these hybrids is that the gas or diesel engine takes over for the electric motor when the high voltage battery gets low and propels the vehicle just as a non-hybrid, basically an internal combustion engine with and electric motor as a "helper" (Series Hybrid).