Recall Alert: 2012-2013 Dodge Durango

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Vehicles Affected: Approximately 338,000 model-year 2012-13 Dodge Durango SUVs

The Problem: The fuel-pump relay inside the Totally Integrated Power Module may fail, preventing the vehicle from starting or causing it to stall without warning, increasing the risk of a crash. This is an expansion of a previous recall. "Of the two scenarios, the no-start condition is the more common. FCA US is unaware of any related injuries or accidents," the automaker said in a statement.

The Fix: Dealers will install new a relay circuit that improves fuel-pump relay durability for free.

What Owners Should Do: FCA has not yet provided an owner notification schedule. Owners can call FCA at 800-853-1403 for more information.

Need to Find a Dealer for Service? Go to Cars.com Service & Repair to find your local dealer.

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By Jennifer Geiger | February 27, 2015 | Comments (0)

Study: Pedestrian Fatality Rates Still High in 2014

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"This is clearly a good news, bad news scenario," Jonathan Adkins, executive director for the Governors Highway Safety Association, said in a statement about the latest report from the nonprofit safety body on pedestrian fatalities. The study — Spotlight on Highway Safety: Pedestrian Traffic Fatalities by State — finds the number of fatalities has gone virtually unchanged in 2014 compared to the year previous, but 2013 and 2014 are still up 15 percent over 2009.

"While we're encouraged that pedestrian fatalities haven't increased over the past two years, progress has been slow," Adkins continued.

Related: More Safety News

States with large metropolitan centers reported the greatest number of pedestrian fatalities, with California, Florida, Texas and New York representing 43 percent of the overall 2,125 deaths reported in the first six months of 2014.

By Mark Stevenson | February 27, 2015 | Comments (1)

2015 Nissan Sentra Named IIHS Top Safety Pick

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Structural improvements were among the changes that helped the 2015 Nissan Sentra earn the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's Top Safety Pick award.

Related: 2015 Nissan Sentra: What’s Changed

Nissan modified the compact car's front structure, A-pillar and doorsill, allowing the Sentra to earn the top score of good in the small overlap frontal crash test, which replicates a car's front corner hitting a another vehicle or tree. The 2013-14 Sentra received the lowest score of poor in that crash test. The 2015 Sentra also has a longer side curtain airbag to better protect the driver's head in a crash.

In addition to the good score in the small overlap test, the 2015 Sentra also earned the top score in front moderate overlap, side-impact, roof-strength and head restraints and seats crash tests. To earn a Top Safety Pick award, a car must receive the top score of good in those four tests and a good or acceptable rating in the small overlap test.

IIHS photo

By Jennifer Newman | February 26, 2015 | Comments (3)

Recall Alert: 2015 Chrysler 200

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Vehicles Affected: Approximately 22,000 model-year 2015 Chrysler 200 sedans equipped with the V-6 engine

The Problem: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles said it is recalling the affected vehicles to resolve manufacturing issues that may prevent the vehicles from shifting into Park, increasing the risk of an accident. The automaker said five customers have reported being unable to shift the vehicle into Park, but FCA is unaware of any injuries or accidents related to this issue.

The Fix: Dealers will inspect and, if needed, replace the nine-speed automatic transmission for free.

What Owners Should Do: FCA has not yet provided an owner-notification schedule. In the meantime, the automaker says drivers should activate the vehicle's parking brake before shutting off its engine. Owners can call FCA at 800-853-1403 for more information.

Need to Find a Dealer for Service? Go to Cars.com Service & Repair to find your local dealer.

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By Jennifer Geiger | February 26, 2015 | Comments (0)

2015 Chrysler 300S: Car Seat Check

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Chrysler's stylish flagship got an update for 2015 that makes it stand out even more; according to the automaker, the 300's grille has been pumped up by 33 percent this year. Inside, the sedan will stand out for families because it's again one of a handful of sedans that can comfortably accommodate three child-safety seats.

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The backseat may be roomy, but parents will find it tough to install car seats in the sporty 300S model; its stiff leather seats made connecting to the Latch anchors difficult, and the model's heavily bolstered seat cushions impacted car-seat fit.

By Jennifer Geiger | February 24, 2015 | Comments (0)

Recall Alert: 2013-2015 Cadillac ATS

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Vehicles Affected: Approximately 58,700 model-year 2013-15 Cadillac ATS sedans

The Problem: The ATS' power roof panel system will automatically close when the nonrecessed portion of the "slide" or "tilt" switch is pressed and the roof panel is open; because these switches are not fully recessed they can be activated with less force than required by federal rules. GM is unaware of any crashes, injuries or fatalities related to this issue.

The Fix: Dealers will replace the roof console accessory switch trim plate free of charge.

What Owners Should Do: GM has not released an owner notification schedule. Consumers can call 800-458-8006 for more information.

Need to Find a Dealer for Service? Go to Cars.com Service & Repair to find your local dealer.

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By Jen Burklow | February 24, 2015 | Comments (0)

Real Consumers to Test Self-Driving Volvo Fleet by 2017

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Self-driving cars appear to be one step closer to the average Joe. Volvo aims to put consumers — not engineers or professional drivers — behind the wheel of a test fleet of self-driving XC90 SUVs in Sweden by 2017. Part of the automaker's "Drive Me" initiative, the project will deploy 100 autonomous cars on select roads near Volvo's headquarters in suburban Gothenburg, Sweden.

Related: Dude, Where's My Self-Driving Car? Experts Discuss Viability

The company already has several self-driving prototypes on the road around Gothenburg equipped with its Autopilot technology. It's hardly the first foray into self-driving vehicles, but Volvo research and development chief Peter Mertens called the consumer deployment the "world's first large-scale pilot" of its kind.

By Kelsey Mays | February 24, 2015 | Comments (0)

Recall Alert: 2013-2015 Land Rover Range Rover, 2014-2015 Range Rover Sport

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Vehicles Affected: Approximately 62,000 model-year 2013-15 Land Rover Range Rover SUVs manufactured Aug.. 23, 2012, to Feb. 5, 2015 and model-year 2014-15 Range Rover Sport SUVs manufactured June 16, 2013, to Feb. 5, 2015

The Problem: In the affected vehicles, a lightweight front passenger could be improperly classified by the occupant classification system, possibly disabling the front-impact airbag. This increases the risk of injury in a crash.

The Fix: Dealers will update the OCS software for free.

What Owners Should Do: Land Rover will begin notifying owners on April 17. Owners can call Land Rover at 800-637-6837 or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration at 888-327-4236 for more information.

Need to Find a Dealer for Service? Go to Cars.com Service & Repair to find your local dealer.

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By Jennifer Geiger | February 23, 2015 | Comments (0)

Trucks' Tether Anchors Are Often Tricky to Find, Use

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Tether anchors, a critical part of a car's Latch system, often go unused by parents and caregivers. In sedans, where the tether anchors are easy to find on the rear shelf behind the head restraints, they're used only 52 percent of the time, according to one study. In pickup trucks, where the anchors are difficult to locate, that number drops significantly.

Related: Five Things Families Should Look for in Pickup Trucks

In a 2014 study of tether anchor use and misuse conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, it found that parent volunteers with car-seat-installation experience had the most problems correctly using the loop-style tether anchors found in some pickup trucks. These volunteers installed the tether strap correctly only 11 percent of the time in the trucks. In other cars, volunteers used the tether anchor correctly 57 percent of the time.

While many may not consider a pickup truck a family vehicle, the full-size versions make easy work of hauling three kids in car seats. To help truck-owning parents, caregivers and prospective parents, we've combed through owner's manuals and crawled through pickup trucks to show the different styles of tether anchors and how to correctly use them.

By Jennifer Newman | February 23, 2015 | Comments (0)

Protect Yourself From Skin Cancer Even in the Car

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We all know not to head out for a day at the beach without sun protection. But what if your only sun exposure throughout the day is in your car while shuttling your family to all of their commitments? Surely you're safe, right? Surely your car's windows are loaded up with both UVA and UVB protection, right?

Related: More Safety News

Wrong! On average people spend one to two hours everyday inside their cars with only the car windows between their skin and the sun's damaging rays? Ultraviolet protection varies widely from car to car, and the type, thickness and color of car windows all impact UV filtration. Most windshields have a sun protection factor of around 50 while most side windows only have about 16 SPF, said Debra Levy, Auto Glass Safety Council president.

What can we do to protect our skin while driving? I reached out to Dr. Scott W. Fosko, professor and chairman of Saint Louis University's dermatology department to answer this very question. Here are some of his top suggestions:

By Kristin Varela | February 23, 2015 | Comments (2)

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