NHTSA Spotlight Could Hasten Spread of Auto-Braking Systems

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Forward collision warning systems are now available on cars as affordable as the Ford Focus and Mazda3, but a new spotlight from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration could hasten their spread. On Thursday, NHTSA announced plans to add more collision-mitigation technologies to its list of recommended features in the government's five-star crash-test ratings.

Related: Number of IIHS Top Safety Picks Spike for 2015

It follows the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's recent move to require the availability of forward collision warning systems with effective auto-braking for its highest award, Top Safety Pick Plus. Under the "recommended technologies" section next to each car's five-star crash-test ratings, NHTSA will highlight systems that automatically brake just before a collision or add braking if you don't brake hard enough.

The features, respectively dubbed crash imminent braking (CIB) and dynamic brake support (DBS), are part of what NHTSA calls automatic emergency braking (AEB) systems. The acronym soup targets more specific action than the larger umbrella of forward collision warning systems, which warn the driver but don't necessarily auto-brake. According to IIHS, more than 51 percent of 2015 models offer forward collision warning as standard or optional, but just 27 percent pair that with auto-braking.

By Kelsey Mays | January 23, 2015 | Comments (3)

GM Issues Stop Sale on Three 2015 Three-Row Crossovers


A pending tire recall has prompted GM to issue a stop-sale mandate to dealers for three model-year 2015 SUVs. Approximately 6,000 versions of the Chevrolet Traverse, GMC Acadia and Buick Enclaves are affected. The vehicles use Goodyear tires that could crack.

Related: More Safety News

According to the Detroit News, the tire recall will include about 48,500 Fortera HL tires that were made from Nov. 30, 2014, through Jan. 10, 2015. Click here for the full story from the Detroit News.

Cars.com photo by Kelsey Mays

By Jennifer Geiger | January 22, 2015 | Comments (1)

2015 Lexus ES 350: Car Seat Check


For 2015 Lexus' midsize sedan now has new standard equipment every parent will appreciate: a backup camera. Families will also like how the 2015 Lexus ES 350 handles child-safety seats. Its copious amount of room and easy-to-access Latch anchors helped the sedan earn straight As across the board.

How many car seats fit in the second row? Two

More Car Seat Checks

By Jennifer Geiger | January 22, 2015 | Comments (0)

Jaguar Develops Bicycle Alert System


Each year more than 700 bicyclists are killed in crashes with cars, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Some automakers, like Volvo, already offer pedestrian and bicyclist detection systems, and Jaguar is following suit. The automaker is testing new systems that use colors, vibrations and sounds to alert drivers to potential collisions involving bicycles.

Related: Volvo's Safety System Detects Pedestrians, Cyclists

If a bicycle is near the car, the Bike Sense system responds in several ways: a bicycle bell sound will be piped through the audio system in the speaker nearest the bike, helping the driver pinpoint the bike's direction. As the bike continues to move, a cluster of amber and red LED lights will illuminate on the window sills, dashboard and windshield pillars, depending on the bike's location.

By Jennifer Geiger | January 20, 2015 | Comments (0)

Jeep's Recall Repair Rates 'Woeful'


More than 1 million Jeep SUVs have yet to be fixed in the 18 months since a recall was issued for the 2003-07 Liberty and 1993-98 Grand Cherokee models because they can catch fire when rear-ended, reports Bloomberg News.

Related: More Jeep News

Since the initial recall in June 2013, six people have died in crashes, according to the Center for Auto Safety. The group's executive director, Clarence Ditlow, said the slow repair rate was "woeful" and that Jeep, and its parent company, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles US, must do more to fix the affected vehicles.

FCA US responded that it's doing the best it can to find the owners for vehicles that are possibly on their second or third owners.

Read the full story here.

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By Jennifer Newman | January 9, 2015 | Comments (0)

Study: Many Parents Too Quick to Turn Car Seat Around


According to the Centers for Disease Control, car crashes are a leading cause of death and injury for kids, but many of these catastrophes can be prevented with the proper use of child safety seats. The CDC reports that car seat use reduces the risk for death to infants younger than 1 by a whopping 71 percent, and to toddlers 1 to 4 years old by 54 percent. Keeping your child in a rear-facing child safety seat until at least his or her second birthday is the safest place for him or her in the car, ensuring fragile heads and necks are protected in an impact, but a new study suggests that many parents aren't following this rule.

Related: NHTSA Recommends Kids Stay in Car Seats, Boosters Longer

In a University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute study, close to 75 percent of parents reported they turned the seat around before their child was 2 years old. In 2011, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a new recommendation that children stay in rear-facing seats until their second birthday or they reach the weight/height limit of the seat, but parents cited several reasons for making the switch earlier: the perception their children are too large, the desire to see their children when driving and a greater ease of removing their children from a forward-facing seat.

By Jennifer Geiger | January 9, 2015 | Comments (0)

U.S. Government Fines Honda $70 Million


In November, Honda disclosed that it failed to report safety problems in a timely manner, specifically underreporting how many people died or were injured by faulty Takata airbag inflators in its vehicles.  Now it's time to pay the consequences. The U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced that Honda will pay two $35 million civil penalties, for a total of $70 million.

Related: Honda Failed to Report Airbag-Related Deaths, Injuries

According to NHTSA, the first fine is for the automaker's failure to report 1,729 death and injury claims between 2003 and 2014. The second penalty stems from Honda's failure to report certain warranty claims and claims under customer satisfaction campaigns throughout the same time period. Both infractions violate the Transportation Recall Enhancement, Accountability, and Documentation Act.

It's the largest auto safety fine in U.S. history and dwarfs the fine levied against General Motors last year; GM paid $35 million for its missteps in handling ignition-related recalls. Like GM, Honda also agreed to increased NHTSA oversight and third-party audits to ensure the law is followed in the future.

By Jennifer Geiger | January 8, 2015 | Comments (2)

Your Car is Cold Too


Much of the country is suffering though a bit of an arctic chill at the moment (and by "bit" I mean massive, bone-chilling, teeth-chattering, freeze-your-nostrils-together chill). While we all have our techniques for coping, our cars are usually forced to suffer the brunt of it.

Related: The Cars That Beat This Winter

Just in time, the Car Care Council, a nonprofit organization that aims to educate the public on proper car maintenance, is touting some important things we can do to keep our cars running optimally. Apparently swaddling it in layers of fleece isn't one of them.

Here are their tips:

By Kristin Varela | January 8, 2015 | Comments (15)

Recall Alert: Three 2008-14 Subaru Vehicles


Vehicles Affected: Approximately 198,900 model-year 2008-11 Subaru Impreza, 2008-14 WRX and STI, and 2009-13 Forester vehicles currently or formerly registered in Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia, Wisconsin and the District of Columbia. Only vehicles fixed under a previous recall are affected; Subaru has determined that the prior remedy was inadequate due to incomplete repair instructions provided to dealers.

The Problem: Road salt water could splash on the brake lines through a gap in the fuel tank protector, corroding the lines. This could result in brake fluid leakage, affecting the car's ability to stop and increasing the risk of a crash.

The Fix: Dealers will rustproof the affected areas with anticorrosion wax for free.

What Owners Should Do: Subaru will begin notifying owners on Jan. 26. Owners can call Subaru at 800-782-2783 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 | January 8, 2015 | Comments (0)

2015 Kia Soul EV: Car Seat Check


Kia's quirky box probably doesn't immediately jump to mind when you think of a family vehicle, but the Kia Soul has more room for kids and cargo than its compact dimensions suggest. The gas-powered Kia Soul, which was redesigned for the 2014 model year, performed admirably in our Car Seat Check, but what about the new-for-2015 electric version? Although the 2015 Kia Soul EV gives up some interior space to make room for the battery and has unique seats, small families won't have any problems installing two child-safety seats in the backseat.

How many car seats fit in the second row? Two

More Car Seat Checks

By Jennifer Geiger | January 8, 2015 | Comments (0)

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