In the United States, we are fortunate enough to be protected by federal regulatory agencies like the U.S. Department of Transportation and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). This means that when we buy a vehicle at our local dealership, we can be pretty sure that it will work properly and in a way that doesn’t compromise our safety.
The NHTSA maintains this level of consumer confidence by carefully monitoring the automotive industry for potentially dangerous design defects and products. When an automobile or component is found to have a serious safety defect, recalls are promptly conducted to correct the problem before it has the chance to injure the general public. Since the passage of the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act in 1966, approximately 400 million cars, trucks buses, motorcycles, motor scooters, and other recreational vehicles have been recalled, and an additional 127 million tires and pieces of auto equipment have also been recovered in order to correct safety issues. (Lawyers and Settlements)
Earlier this month, automotive heavyweight General Motors (GM) announced that it would recall approximately 1.4 million of its 3.8-liter, V6 engine vehicles produced between 1997 and 2004, citing defective engine parts that have caused at least 1,300 fires. According to officials from GM, the faulty engine parts make it possible for oil to seep through valve cover gaskets (tasked with keeping the oil inside the engine); under heavy braking and heat, this can cause the oil to catch fire on the vehicles hot exhaust manifold.
While previous GM recalls have sought to address this problem as early as 2008, analysts have criticized the earlier repairs for allowing a small ‘pilot flame’ that would burn itself out, which they believe continued the risk of fires occurring. Parts around available to address the problem just yet, but GM says they have been sending letters to customers since Monday instructing them to make appointments with a local dealer to remove plastic engine covers and oil-fill tube extensions. (The Boston Globe)
Automotive recalls prevent countless injuries every year, and they continue to be a crucial aspect of building and maintaining company-consumer trust. Still, sometimes defects go undetected or are ignored, and this can lead to serious consequences for companies and victims alike.
When manufacturers and distributors are negligent by failing to report or respond to automotive design defects and other safety concerns in a timely manner, it risks the lives of thousands of people. If you have been injured because of a defective product, or if you are the survivor of a loved one who lost their life because of another party’s carelessness, know that you can employ the legal system to ensure that companies stay accountable.