Recall Alert: 2014 Volkswagen Jetta, Beetle, Beetle Convertible, Passat

2014VolkswagenPassat1.8T

Vehicles Affected: About 26,452 model-year 2014 Volkswagen Jetta, Beetle, Beetle Convertible and Passat cars equipped with a 1.8-liter turbo engine and torque converter automatic transmission.

The Problem: The O-ring seals between the oil cooler and transmission may leak fluid, which could contact a hot surface and result in a fire. The automaker said it is not aware of any fires, injuries or accidents attributed to this issue.

The Fix: Volkswagen began notifying owners earlier this month, and dealers will replace the O-ring in the transmission oil cooler for free. On April 9, the automaker issued a mandatory stop-sale order on all of the affected models manufactured between Feb. 1, 2014, and now.

What Owners Should Do: Owners can call Volkswagen at 800-822-8987, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's vehicle-safety hotline at 888-327-4236 or visit www.safercar.gov for more info.

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By Matt Schmitz | April 22, 2014 | Comments (0)

Recall Alert: 2014 Mazda3, 2014-15 Mazda6

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Vehicles Affected: Approximately 5,700 model-year 2014 Mazda3 compact cars and model-year 2014-2015 Mazda6 midsize sedans equipped with the 2.5-liter engine and a regenerative braking system. Only Mazda3 vehicles manufactured from June 12 through Dec. 18, 2013, and Mazda6 vehicles manufactured from May 20 through Dec. 4, 2013, are affected. 

The Problem: Driving through rain or heavy puddles could cause the alternator belt to slip and send a faulty message to the power control module. This could cause a loss of power steering assist and possible engine stall, increasing the risk of a crash.

The Fix: Dealers will reprogram the PCM for free.

What Owners Should Do: Mazda will notify owners later this month. Owners can call Mazda at 800-222-5500 or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration at 888-327-4236 for more information.

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By Jennifer Geiger | April 22, 2014 | Comments (0)

Recall Alert: 16,655 Baby Trend Car Seats

BabyTrendz

Car Seats Affected: Approximately 16,655 Baby Trend Trendz Fastback 3-in-1 child-safety seats, models FB60070 (Granite) and FB60408 (Jellybean), which were manufactured between October 2011 and July 2013

The Problem: When this combination car seat is used with its five-point harness, it can become difficult to unlatch the harness buckle. The buckle can become stuck, so it cannot be opened by depressing its release button. If this occurs, it could be difficult to remove the child from the car seat, increasing the risk of injury in an emergency.

The Fix: Baby Trend will provide registered owners with replacement buckles once they’re available.

What Owners Should Do: The car-seat manufacturer will contact registered car-seat owners, but it hasn't provided the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration with notification or buckle availability schedules. For more info, owners may call NHTSA's safety hotline at 888-327-4236 or go to www.safercar.gov.

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By Jennifer Newman | April 15, 2014 | Comments (0)

Nissan's Smart Rearview Mirror Improves Rear Visibility

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Come 2016 or 2017, Nissan could have a better rearview mirror in some of its cars. After an initial rollout to its racecars and Japan-market vehicles, the automaker plans to introduce its new Smart Rearview Mirror to global markets over the next few years. The SRM uses a high-res rearview camera to overlay what's behind you — in real time — in the conventional rearview mirror. Drivers can alternate between the mirror and the monitor with a switch on the bottom of the mirror frame.

Which Small SUV Has the Best Rear Visibility?

If it works, the technology could free drivers from the compromised sightlines that short rear windows, large rear head restraints or bulky C- and D-pillars create. It also means big Uncle Eddy could sit in back without blocking three interstate lanes.

But execution matters in a huge way.

By Kelsey Mays | April 14, 2014 | Comments (1)

Recall Alert: 2014 Infiniti QX80

2014InfinitiQX80

Vehicles Affected: About 468 model-year 2014 Infiniti QX80 SUVs manufactured between Dec. 2, 2013, and Jan. 27, 2014, and equipped with 20-inch wheels.

The Problem: The certification label incorrectly lists the gross axle weight rating as 4,497 pounds when it should be 4,343 pounds. This could result in the vehicle being overloaded, increasing the risk of a crash.

The Fix: Infiniti parent company, Nissan, will notify owners starting this month and mail corrected certification labels to owners for free.

What Owners Should Do: Owners can call Infiniti at 800-662-6200 or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's vehicle-safety hotline at 888-327-4236, or go to www.safercar.gov, for more info.

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By Matt Schmitz | April 14, 2014 | Comments (0)

2014 Nissan Rogue Earns NHTSA Four-Star Overall Safety Rating

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Last week, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released its latest crash scores for new vehicles. Nissan's redesigned 2014 Rogue received a four-star overall score out of five stars with just a three-star frontal crash score, which are low numbers for an all-new compact SUV. NHTSA's ratings are especially strange since the Rogue earned top crash scores across the board from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, giving it the highest Top Safety Pick Plus designation.

By David Thomas | April 14, 2014 | Comments (0)

Common Car Seat Mistakes That Parents Make

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Installing a child-safety seat isn't rocket science. That's what I thought until I saw the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's campaign that said the majority of parents believe their car seat is installed correctly, but in reality it's only a small fraction of them.

More Car Seat Checks and News

As the mother of three, I've been installing and buckling up car seats for more than five years. I thought I had car seats figured out, but certified car-seat technicians must take a 40-hour course before they begin volunteering at car-seat checks (find one near you). I recently had my three car seats checked by a friendly car-seat technician who confirmed that most people install their car seats incorrectly ... myself included. I thought I had my three car seats installed as tightly as possible, but the car-seat technician showed me how loose they were by tugging at the seats' belt paths, where they each moved more than the inch that's recommended.

By BreAnn Ahara | April 14, 2014 | Comments (0)

Texting-While-Driving Consequences Vary by State

TextingWhileDriving

Generally speaking, a moving violation is when a driver breaks the law while their vehicle is in motion. Examples of patently dangerous actions include driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, speeding and running a stop sign. But what about texting while driving?

Cars.com Undercover: Texting While Driving Rampant

That indisputably risky variety of distracted driving that puts drivers' eyes on their smartphone screens and their thumbs on the digital keys — and only a portion of their attention on the road — has been shown to directly correlate with accidents. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that a texting driver is 23 times more likely to crash, a major contributor to the thousands of distracted-driving deaths that occur each year.

By Matt Schmitz | April 11, 2014 | Comments (3)

Are Built-In Booster Seats Worth the Extra Cost?

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After years of wrestling with child-safety seats, most booster seats seem like they'd be easy to install, but depending on the car, they may not work well with a particular seat belt or seat configuration. Sometimes the booster covers a recessed seat belt buckle, or the car's seat is too bolstered and the booster is pushed at an angle.

Car Seat Basics: Beyond the Booster

There's a solution for this: an integrated, or built-in, booster seat that's tailor-made for the vehicle it's in. In the 2014 Dodge Journey, all I had to do was tug on a strap at the front of the seat bench and the booster popped up. I pressed down on it to snap it securely into place, and it was ready to use: No fighting seat belt buckles or contending with seat bolsters. Built-in booster seats are only available on a handful of models. If you're considering a car that offers this feature, there are a few things to think about.

By Sara Lacey | April 11, 2014 | Comments (0)

Distracted Driving Campaign Targets 'Big Fat Myth' of Hands-Free Safety

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Safety advocates want motorists to pay attention to the dangers of distracted driving. As April is designated Distracted Driving Awareness Month, the century-old Itasca, Ill.-based National Safety Council has released a new poll showing that 80 percent of drivers across the U.S. believe hands-free devices are safer than using a handheld phone while behind the wheel. The group believes this not to be the case. Meanwhile, among motorists reporting using hands-free devices while driving, 70 percent said they do so for safety reasons.

More Safety News on Cars.com

"While many drivers honestly believe they are making the safe choice by using a hands-free device, it's just not true," said David Teater, the NSC's senior director of transportation initiatives. "The problem is the brain does not truly multitask. Just like you can't read a book and talk on the phone, you can't safely operate a vehicle and talk on the phone."

By Matt Schmitz | April 10, 2014 | Comments (5)

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