Feds Fine Hyundai $17.35 Million for Late Recall on Genesis

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Hyundai has agreed to pay $17.35 million to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for failing to report in a timely manner a safety defect on the brakes of the 2009-12 Genesis.

Related: More Recall News

The penalty comes after the agency determined that Hyundai was aware in 2012 that the brake fluid wasn't up to snuff when it came to stopping corrosion on certain braking components in the Genesis. That, in turn, could decrease the car's stopping power. Rather than issue a recall, Hyundai told dealers to change the brake fluid without explaining to customers the gravity of the situation, according to NHTSA's press release. An investigation by the agency prompted the Korean automaker to recall the Genesis in October 2013.

This latest fine is about half of NHTSA's $35 million maximum. The agency has stepped up its civil penalties in recent months, and Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx asked Congress earlier this year to increase the agency's cap to $300 million. That would certainly push automakers to step up their own recall scrutiny. For car shoppers it could increase the number of recalls but also could bring more transparency from an industry that's already seen a record number of callbacks this year.

Cars.com photo by Evan Sears

By Kelsey Mays | August 8, 2014 | Comments (0)

Top 10 Best-Selling Cars: July 2014

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Today's sales figures continue to pave the road for a strong 2014. As the sales year steams into its second half, we've seen new optimism from analysts and automakers that expect total new-car sales this year to land close to where they were in the heyday years of the early 2000s.

Related: Top 10 Best-Selling Cars: June 2014

With the largest seven automakers reporting numbers so far today, industry sales increased 9 percent over July 2013. Honda was the odd one out (down 3.9 percent), but Hyundai-Kia, Toyota and recall-beset GM reported single-digit sales gains, while Chrysler, Ford, Nissan and Toyota reported double-digit gains. All of that is compared against a pretty good month a year ago for the industry, too.

Thanks to big gains from the Sentra and Versa, Nissan sales gained 11.4 percent. Small-car sales overall were mixed: Shoppers had more interest in the Ford Focus (up 5.7 percent) but not the recall-besieged Chevrolet Cruze (down 17.8 percent), the Honda Civic (down 7.3 percent) or the Hyundai Elantra (down 7.9 percent).

By Kelsey Mays | August 1, 2014 | Comments (4)

Auto-Recall Database Still on Track for Aug. 20

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Almost a year ago, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced it would have an online recall database for shoppers to check if a car they're shopping had an unrepaired recall. Current owners could also check the database to see if their car needed recall work done. At the time, NHTSA set a deadline of Aug. 14, 2014, for automakers to furnish the data to the agency, post it on their own websites and update it weekly. (Some already do this.)

Two auto-industry groups appealed to move the date back two months. But The Detroit News reports that NHTSA is still on track to have the database running on Aug. 20 through its consumer website, safercar.gov. Automakers that sell at least 25,000 cars per year must comply, so certain exotics may be exempt.

Our friends at The Detroit News have the full story. Click here to read it.

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By Kelsey Mays | July 29, 2014 | Comments (0)

Are You Here Yet? Glympse Has the Answer

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Tucked beneath a canopy of tower cranes in Seattle's booming South Lake Union neighborhood stands a single-story office building that houses Glympse, a 5-year-old internet startup with a laser focus on answering one question: Where the heck are you?

Related: Texting-While-Driving Consequences Vary by State

Not the existential, where-are-you-in-life sort of query, but the more practical where are you and when will you get here. And there lays the in-car potential. Glympse, whose app launched in 2009, allows you to share real-time location via a GPS-enabled mobile device with your friends (or the whole world, if you post to social media) for a period of time you choose. BMW/Mini, Ford, GM, Jaguar/Land Rover, Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen and Volvo have current or forthcoming integration in their multimedia systems.

I can see why.

By Kelsey Mays | July 29, 2014 | Comments (4)

Report: GM Cars in Ignition-Cylinder Recall Selling for Less

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A new report by iSeeCars.com says cars involved in the most serious of GM's ignition-related recalls have lower prices on the used-car market. The Woburn, Mass.-based automotive site, and Cars.com partner, analyzed more than 11 million cars for sale and found the listed price of recalled cars has dropped more than double the rate of non-luxury used cars in general.

More on GM's Ignition Recalls

The website looked at listed prices for the 2005-2007 Chevrolet Cobalt, 2007 Pontiac G5, 2003-2007 Saturn Ion, 2006-2007 Chevrolet HHR, 2006-2007 Saturn Sky and 2006-2007 Pontiac Solstice. All six models were among the 2.2 million cars recalled in the U.S. between Feb. 25 and April 9 for faulty ignition switches and then, ultimately, faulty ignition cylinders.

By Kelsey Mays | July 25, 2014 | Comments (3)

Porsche, Hyundai Top New J.D. Power Study, Volvo and Mitsubishi Sink

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Porsche and Hyundai topped their respective luxury and nonluxury peers in J.D. Power and Associates' 2014 Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout study. Volvo and Mitsubishi, respectively, placed last in each group.

Related: Porsche Flies, Fiat Flails in 2014 J.D. Power Initial Quality Study

APEAL tries to assess what people like in their cars. This differs from J.D. Power's other major automotive studies, the 90-day Initial Quality Study and three-year Vehicle Dependability Study, which both rate things that went wrong.

For the APEAL study, new-car owners rate their vehicles across 77 areas, and the results give a composite rating on a 1,000-point scale. Not surprisingly, premium brands beat their mass-market counterparts with an average score of 840 points among the study's 12 premium brands while the 20 nonpremium brands average 785 points.

Overall results slipped one point between the 2014 and 2013 APEAL studies, however; J.D. Power notes that in-car technology left some owners less than thrilled.

By Kelsey Mays | July 23, 2014 | Comments (2)

New Study Breaks Down Traffic Fatalities State by State

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When it comes to U.S. traffic fatalities, coastal states have the lowest rates, according to a new study by the University of Michigan's Transportation Research Institute. By contrast, Montana, North Dakota and a number of Southern states have the highest rates.

Related: Sobering Stats on Summer Driving Dangers

UMTRI's July 2014 study by professor Michael Sivak is called "Road Safety in the Individual U.S. States: Current Status and Recent Changes." It compared traffic fatality rates in every U.S. state plus the District of Columbia between 2005 and 2012, the last available year of data. Taken as a whole, the data gives a snapshot of traffic fatalities — which claimed 33,561 lives in 2012 — across a broad spectrum of America.

By Kelsey Mays | July 17, 2014 | Comments (0)

Consumer, Environmental Groups Call for MPG Regulation in Car Ads

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Ever get annoyed when car ads hype pie-in-the-sky mpg figures? Well, you aren't alone. Advertisements are notorious for shilling highway-only mpg, sometimes for specific trims that aren't widely available. Witness a Mazda commercial from 2012 that blared 35 mpg highway for the 2013 CX-5 SUV — an EPA figure only achieved by a front-wheel-drive, manual-transmission model. Or one of Ford's 2011 Fiesta ads that rolled "40 mpg" across the backdrop, which only the automatic SE with the Super Fuel Economy package received in EPA highway ratings.

Related: Gas Prices Continue Upward Climb

Both ads clarified the details in the small print, but you'd have to pause the DVR and get out a magnifying glass to read it. If a group of consumer, environmental and safety advocates get their way, such practices could change.

By Kelsey Mays | July 14, 2014 | Comments (7)

Top 10 Best-Selling Cars: June 2014

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The broken record continues. Another sales month, and all eyes are on GM. When the automaker's 2014 recall total long-jumped past the 20 million mark, we thought there was no way new-car sales could remain unaffected. Yes, we heard from industry experts that shoppers don't pay attention to recalls like they used to, and anyone who owns a Chevy Cobalt isn't in the market for a new car anyway. But given congressional testimonies and lawsuits galore, we expected shoppers to deal the General a sales defeat in June.

Related: 2014 American-Made Index

It didn't happen. GM sales increased 1 percent, beating out Ford and Honda, each down 5.8 percent. A sales stoppage in late June on the Chevrolet Cruze, which GM recalled shortly thereafter, contributed toward a 20.9 percent decline for the popular compact, as did lower inventory for the car. Still, GM's Buick and GMC divisions lifted overall sales for the automaker. And with half of 2014 now in the books, U.S. sales operations head Kurt McNeil said in a sales statement that GM saw its best half-year of retail sales (that's sales to individuals, as opposed to commercial fleets) since 2008.

By Kelsey Mays | July 1, 2014 | Comments (2)

More Details on GM's Latest -- and Largest -- Ignition-Related Recall

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Today's GM recall encompassed 7.55 million cars in the U.S. and another 893,547 cars outside the country. About 97 percent stem from inadvertent rotation of the ignition key across a slew of 1997-2014 models, which sounds similar to the ignition-switch defects that spurred the recall of 2.19 million small cars between February and April.
 
Recall Alert: 6.8 Million Additional GM Vehicles for Ignition Key Fix

It's not, GM claims. The problem — and GM's solution — is closer to the automaker's more recent ignition-related recalls: 464,712 Chevrolet Camaros in the U.S. on June 13 and 3.16 million larger cars in the U.S. on June 16. Confused? That's because GM's ignition-related recalls, which are now responsible for more than half the automaker's 2014 U.S. recall total, are three separate, albeit related, categories:

GM says this latest recall stems from the second and third problems.

By Kelsey Mays | June 30, 2014 | Comments (3)

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