Report: Vehicle Thefts Down 58 Percent Since 1991

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It's the sort of threat most people don't think about until it actually happens: stolen cars. But car theft is on a steep decline, according to new report from the National Insurance Crime Bureau. Citing recent data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the NICB says 699,594 cars were stolen in 2013. That's down 58 percent from 1991, when vehicle theft hit a record 1,661,738.

Related: Heat Map Shows Auto-Theft Hot Spots

More impressively, the decline occurred while registered vehicles and the general population rose. In 1991, thieves purloined 659 cars for every 100,000 Americans. In 2013, the rate fell to just 221.3 cars per 100,000 people.

In historical terms, today's rate isn't the lowest. NICB notes that in 1960, thieves made off with just 182 cars for every 100,000 people. But a lot of that stems from lower ownership rates. Back then, every 10 Americans accounted for just 4.1 registered vehicles. By 2012, that density ballooned to 8.1 registered vehicles for every 10 Americans. The federal data referenced by NICB includes buses, motorcycles and heavy-duty trucks — all classified as motor vehicles by the Federal Highway Administration — but if you look at auto thefts as a percentage of all registered vehicles, not people, recent years present the lowest overall rate.

By Kelsey Mays | December 10, 2014 | Comments (0)

How to Corral Car Clutter

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No one likes to admit that their car's interior looks a bit like a landfill, but with families spending more time in their cars than ever before, it happens. A lot. But families deserve a clean, Zen-like interior (after all, an organized environment leads to an organized mind — or so they say).

Related: How to Clean Up Spills in the Car

Now is the time to do something about that item in the back of your car that goes "skssssssssss, thunk" every time your turn or brake. Now is the time to stop losing your mind over the empty to-go cups piling up in your cupholders (that you "forget" to remove for days). Now is the time to stop obsessing about the ground-in crackers in your floormats and just clean them up already.

Between our staff members and our freelancing mamas, we have a grand total of 15 parents and more than 30 kids between us. And while families aren't the only ones faced with car clutter, we do have a unique take on how to corral it that both the breeders and the non-breeders among us can implement.

By Kristin Varela | December 10, 2014 | Comments (0)

Honda Reduces Takata Airbag Expansion to 2.6 Million Cars

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Three days after Honda announced a massive expansion to its Takata-supplied airbag recall, the automaker said Dec. 8 that it would trim the nationwide driver-side airbag recall by some 600,000 vehicles. It still leaves 2.6 million cars in the recall expansion, but that’s short of the 3.2 million announced Dec. 5, The Detroit News reports.

Related: What Cars Are Included in the Takata Airbag Recall?

Pressure has mounted from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to recall vehicles from 10 automakers with faulty Takata airbag inflators across the entire U.S., but Japanese supplier Takata has resisted because it claims its own testing confirms inflators only pose a risk in high-humidity areas. Honda is the only automaker to publically extend its campaign across all 50 states; others have recalled cars mostly in the Gulf Coast, Hawaii and various U.S. territories. Honda's national recall will reportedly phase in over several months, with the initial focus on high-humidity areas.

For more details, click here to read the story from The Detroit News.

Cars.com photo by Joe Wiesenfelder

By Kelsey Mays | December 9, 2014 | Comments (1)

Study: AAA Finds Safety Systems Still Have Kinks

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Blind spot monitors are one of those features that didn't exist when I started reviewing cars more than a decade ago, but now, according to AAA, nearly three-quarters of model-year 2014 vehicles offer blind spot detection and 50 percent offer a lane departure warning system as options. During the last several years of testing cars with these systems, I've found that I can't live without them. I was even thinking about asking for an aftermarket blind spot detection system for my own car as a Christmas present (it's between that and a spa day).

Related: Consumers Want Backup Cameras, Blind Spot Systems

However, as much as we like to think that the technology in our cars is unflappable, AAA reminds us that in-car safety features may not be perfect and are only as smart as the humans who operate them.

In partnership with the Automobile Club of Southern California's Automotive Research Center, AAA Automotive Engineering released the results of a blind spot monitoring and lane departure warning system usability study today, and their findings aren't what you'd expect:

By Kristin Varela | December 9, 2014 | Comments (1)

Recall Alert: 2009-11 Hyundai Genesis, 2011 Equus

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Vehicles Affected: Approximately 43,000 model-year 2009-11 Hyundai Genesis vehicles manufactured between April 30, 2008, and Nov. 21, 2010, as well as model-year 2011 Equus sedans manufactured July 31 to Nov. 21, 2010

The Problem: A circuit failure could cause the brake lights to not illuminate, increasing the risk of a rear-end accident. There are no reports of accidents related to this recall.

The Fix: Dealers will inspect and repair affected stop lamp switch circuits for free.

What Owners Should Do: Hyundai has not yet provided an owner notification schedule. Owners can call the automaker at 800-633-5151 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.

More Recalls

By Jennifer Geiger | December 9, 2014 | Comments (0)

Recall Alert: 2012-14 Nissan Juke, Several 2012-15 Infinitis

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Vehicles Affected: Approximately 133,000 model-year 2012-14 Nissan Juke crossovers and model-year 2012-13 Infiniti M56 and QX56 vehicles as well as model-year 2014-2015 Infiniti Q70 and QX80 vehicles

The Problem: Insufficiently tightened fuel pressure sensors could cause the sensor to loosen, possibly leading to a fuel leak. This could cause a fire.

The Fix: Dealers will inspect and replace the affected fuel pressure sensor parts for free.

What Owners Should Do: Nissan will notify owners starting on or before Jan. 26, 2015. Owners can call Nissan at 800-647-7261 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.

More Recalls

By Jennifer Geiger | December 9, 2014 | Comments (0)

2015 Lincoln Navigator: Car Seat Check

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Lincoln's largest SUV got refreshed for 2015, but the Navigator's passenger and cargo volume are unchanged this year. Seating for eight is standard again, but our test model's optional second-row captain's chairs reduced capacity to seven. Accessible Latch anchors make the second row car-seat friendly, but the third row’s tether anchor position and lack of room complicated installation of our booster and forward-facing convertible.

How many car seats fit in the second row? Two

How many car seats fit in the third row? Two

More Car Seat Checks

By Jennifer Geiger | December 9, 2014 | Comments (0)

Recall Alert: 2014 BMW i8

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Vehicles Affected: Approximately 200 model-year 2014 BMW i8 vehicles manufactured between May 16 and Sept. 16, 2014.

The Problem: An improperly welded fuel tank bolt could cause a fuel leak, leading to a possible fire.

The Fix: Dealers will inspect and replace the fuel tank for free.

What Owners Should Do: BMW started notifying affected owners in November. Owners can call BMW at 800-525-7417 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. 

More Recalls

By Jennifer Geiger | December 8, 2014 | Comments (0)

Recall Alert: 2013-15 Volkswagen Beetle

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Vehicles Affected: Approximately 7,000 model-year 2013-15 versions of the Volkswagen Beetle manufactured between June 13, 2013, and July 3, 2014

The Problem: When the affected vehicles are driven over hard surfaces or strike a pothole, the glass sunroof may break, possibly causing injury to the vehicle's occupants or a crash.

The Fix: Dealers will replace the sunroof for free.

What Owners Should Do: Volkswagen will notify owners starting Dec. 19. Owners can call Volkswagen at 800-822-8987 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.

More Recalls

By Jennifer Geiger | December 8, 2014 | Comments (0)

Many Automakers Expand Takata Airbag Recall, But Feds Still Want More

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At least six automakers expanded their recalls this week for faulty airbag inflators from parts supplier Takata Corp. The affected airbags can launch shrapnel into passengers as they deploy; incidents were observed in high-humidity areas, prompting 10 automakers to recall scores of 2000s-era models registered in states such as Florida. The total previously stood at nearly 8 million cars, but that figure is rising fast.

Related: What Cars Are Included in the Takata Airbag Recall?

After findings suggested the inflators could fail outside the recalled areas — and were possible with driver's-side airbags, not just the passenger airbags originally investigated — the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration pressed on Nov. 18 for automakers to recall cars across all 50 states. This week, many automakers expanded their campaigns, but only Honda pushed the recall nationwide. Just this morning, the automaker said it would recall another 3 million cars for the driver's-side airbag, The Detroit News reports. That brings the total to at least 11 million, and it's the latest in a string of developments in a recall crisis blamed for at least five deaths so far.

By Kelsey Mays | December 5, 2014 | Comments (0)

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