Burning up the automotive news airwaves is news of a settlement between NHTSA and FCA which involves FCA agreeing to buy back some 500,000 Dodge SUVs and Ram trucks as well as pay a record fine. Also, FCA has agreed to appoint a new, mutually agreed upon, oversight person to handle future recalls.
Nearly a year ago, Ram (aka Fiat Chrysler America) recalled 1.2 million trucks for a tie rod failure issue. The concern was that tie-rods were misaligned either in manufacture or during a service, and that this misalignment could lead to a loss of steering control.
As you have undoubtedly heard, Toyota plans on recalling 2.47 million vehicles in the U.S. (7.43 million globally) to fix a power window issue that some news agencies are erroneously reporting as a “fire risk.”
UPDATE: A new statement has been added to some news reports stating “documents filed by U.S. safety regulators show customers have reported 161 fires and nine injuries.” We have found that this “fire” is really classified as an “electrical fire” such as when the switch gets hot and smokes. Further analysis of the report shows that there were 161 incidents of smoke out of 2.4 million vehicles which is 0.0067% of the total recalled. Not really a big fire risk.
This is unfortunate – and borderline irresponsible – because while the recall effects all switches, the risk of fire is limited to switches that:
- Are “sticking” (this isn’t every switch…not even close)
- Have been “fixed” with a conventional lubricant like WD40
- Because the switch was never, ever designed for conventional lubrication, there is a chance that switches which have been lubed with something like WD40 could catch on fire
This explanation of Toyota’s massive recall is detailed, nuanced, and entirely too difficult to explain in 2 seconds. SO, most media outlets are reporting a global vehicle recall number (7.4 million) along with the phrase “fire risk” and leaving it at that.
This is BS, no?
Chrysler-Fiat is recalling more than 50,000 Ram 1500 pickups because of a rear axle bearing problem that can eventually cause a rear axle failure. The symptoms of this problem are a growling, griding noise coming from the rear axle:
Chrysler is recalling certain model year 2011 Ram 1500 trucks manufactured from September 2009 through December 2010. Some vehicles may have experience a noise (growl, grind) coming from the rear axle bearing which could eventually seize.
If this recall is not completed, a failure of the bearing could cause the vehicle to stall increasing the risk of a crash.
The interesting thing – to me at least – is that these symptoms match a Toyota Tundra TSB (#T-SB-015-10):
UPDATE: As of May 2010, Toyota has extended the warranty on 2000-2003 Tundra frames. Please see Toyota Tundra Frame Replacement Program for more details.
Earlier this week, Toyota announced a special service campaign for all 2000-2003 Tundras to replace or repair certain frame components that suffer from rust. Specifically, the campaign covers the rear cross member, the brake line attachment points, and the fuel tank straps, and it supposed to be a national expansion of the existing regional Tundra frame rust recall for the U.S. North East.
However, according to comments from numerous 2000-2003 Tundra owners, Toyota’s existing recall is lacking in transparency and consistency.