NHTSA Fines Airbag Maker $14,000 a Day

Takata

Airbag-manufacturer Takata will be fined $14,000 a day by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration because it has not cooperated with a probe of its faulty airbags, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announced today.

Related: NHTSA Urges Quick Fix of Defective Airbags

NHTSA says that the Japan-based company refuses to recall cars with the defective airbags, some of which have ruptured, injuring occupants with shrapnel. Takata also has stalled when responding to U.S. government requests for information, NHTSA said.

"Takata's failure to fully cooperate with our investigation is unacceptable and will not be tolerated," Foxx said. "For each day that Takata fails to fully cooperate with our demands, we will hit them with another fine."

Visit USA Today for more on this story.

Alex Schmidt/iStock/Thinkstock

By Jennifer Newman | February 20, 2015 | Comments (2)

2016 Kia Sorento Earns IIHS Top Safety Pick Award

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The three-row crossover class is really heating up, with redesigns from Honda and Kia for 2016. Kia's new Sorento should be more appealing to families with its new safety rating: The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety just named it a Top Safety Pick, earning the top score of good across all areas of testing, including the tough small-overlap front crash test.

Related: 2016 Kia Sorento: First Look

The last-generation Sorento failed the small-overlap front test, which mimics when the front corner of the vehicle strikes another vehicle or an object such as a tree or a utility pole. IIHS also said that in the previous model, the side curtain airbags didn't deploy, causing severe injuries to the crash-test dummy.

By Jennifer Geiger | February 19, 2015 | Comments (2)

Will Three Car Seats Fit in a 2015 Ram 1500?

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Most people wouldn't immediately consider a pickup truck for a family vehicle, but many trucks are tapped for family duty. When I was a kid, I spent many afternoons being carted back-and-forth to ballet and tae kwon do in my dad's Ford F-150.

Related: Which Cars Fit Three Car Seats?

Flash-forward 20-plus years and three of my own kids later: Will three child-safety seats fit in a 2015 Ram 1500 crew cab?

By Jennifer Geiger | February 19, 2015 | Comments (1)

Who Has the Worst Commute?

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As you spend your morning stuck in rush-hour traffic, wishing your office was just a few miles closer to your house so you could've slept in an extra 20 minutes, are you wondering who might be worse off than you? It's OK; you can admit you're perversely pleased just thinking about those poor suckers in SoCal commuting twice as long as you do each morning. I won't tell them. I promise, I won't.

Related: Long Commutes Can Wreck Marriages, Health

This interactive map from FlowingData will either make your day or reinforce what you already know: You spend entirely too much time in your car each day. As i09.com said, "Input your counties, America! And then begin your gloating/seething."

As I sit in my office, having commuted down the stairs from my bedroom and then down the hall from my kitchen (in my fluffy slippers), I'm leaning more toward gloating. I feel for you, northern Virginia and Maryland. I'm sympathetic northeastern Illinois, and I can't help but say a little prayer for you, Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Riverside counties.

I'm going to send you some safe-commuting vibes while I work my way back into the kitchen for a cup of hot tea.

FlowingData map

By Kristin Varela | February 18, 2015 | Comments (1)

Recall Alert: Several 2008-2009 Nissan and Infiniti Vehicles

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Vehicles Affected: Approximately 17,000 model-year 2008 Infiniti EX35 vehicles equipped with the optional power tilt/telescope steering wheel, which was included in the Premium Package, manufactured June 29, 2007, to April 25, 2008; model-year 2009 Infiniti FX35 and FX45 vehicles manufactured Oct. 31, 2007, to April 16, 2008 and model-year 2009 Nissan GT-R vehicles manufactured March 14, 2007, to April 25, 2008.

The Problem: The steering column outer tube in these vehicles may not be round, putting extra stress on the upper steering bearing. This could cause the bearing retainer to fracture; loss of steering ability could result.

The Fix: Dealers will replace the steering shaft on the EX35, FX35 and FX45 vehicles for free; dealers will replace the steering column assembly on GT-R vehicles for free.

What Owners Should Do: The manufacturer has not yet provided a notification schedule. Owners can call Infiniti at 800-662-6200 or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration at 888-327-4236 for more information; Nissan owners can contact the GT-R hotline at 866-668-1487.

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

More Recalls

By Jennifer Geiger | February 16, 2015 | Comments (0)

Recall Alert: 2006-2007 Chevrolet Malibu and Malibu Maxx, Pontiac G6

Malibu

Vehicles Affected: Approximately 69,600 model-year 2006-07 Chevrolet Malibu and Malibu Maxx sedans and hatchbacks vehicles manufactured April 1 to June 30, 2006, and 2006-07 Pontiac G6 vehicles manufactured April 18 to June 30, 2006. This is an expansion of a previous recall.

The Problem: These vehicles could experience a sudden loss of electric power-steering assist while driving. This would require more driver effort to steer the vehicle, increasing the risk of a crash. According to GM, if the power-steering assist is lost, a message is displayed on the driver information center and a chime sounds to inform the driver.

The Fix: Dealers will replace the torque sensor assembly for free.

What Owners Should Do: General Motors will begin notifying owners on Thursday. Owners can call Chevrolet at 800-222-1020 Pontiac at 800-762-2737 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 | February 16, 2015 | Comments (0)

Study: Drivers Admit to Bad Behaviors

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A recent AAA study suggests a "do as I say, not as I do" attitude toward risky driving behaviors is a major contributor to more dangerous roads. In addition, nearly half of drivers sampled don't believe certain distractions even warrant being called a distraction, AAA's 2014 Traffic Safety Culture Index found.

More Safety News

Of 2,705 licensed drivers surveyed, here are the most glaring highlights:

  • Running red lights: 73 percent responded by saying it's completely unacceptable, while 36 percent said they'd run a red light in the past 30 days.
  • Texting: 79 percent of drivers say texting or emailing while driving is a serious threat, while 27 percent of drivers do it regardless.
  • Drowsy driving: 81 percent of respondents believe drowsy driving is completely unacceptable, but 29 percent have done so in the last 30 days.
By Mark Stevenson | February 11, 2015 | Comments (1)

2015 Buick Encore, Chevrolet Trax Named IIHS Top Safety Picks

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Improvements to its structure have helped the 2015 Buick Encore, a subcompact crossover, earn a Top Safety Pick award from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The Encore's lower-priced twin, the 2015 Chevrolet Trax, also received the Top Safety Pick designation.

Related: 2015 Chevrolet Trax Expert Review

The 2015 Encore received the top score of good in small- and moderate-overlap crash tests as well as side-impact, roof-strength and seat tests. The 2013-14 Encore rated good in four crash tests, but earmed the lowest score of poor in the small-overlap front crash test, which simulates the car's front corner colliding with a vehicle or a utility pole. This difficult test has caused many automakers to redesign their vehicles to provide better front crash protection.

To be named a Top Safety Pick, a car must receive a rating of good or acceptable in the small-overlap crash test as well as a good score in the remaining tests.

IIHS' highest award, the Top Safety Pick Plus, takes into account not only the crash-test scores but also if a vehicle has a frontal-crash prevention system. To earn the honor, a car's prevention system must receive a ranking of superior or advanced. The 2015 Encore earned the lowest rating of basic because it has an optional forward collision warning system. The Trax doesn't offer a forward collision warning system.

IIHS photo

By Jennifer Newman | February 10, 2015 | Comments (0)

School Bus Seat Belts May Save Lives

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When I was little my friends and I entertained ourselves on the school bus with a little game of "seat ejection." We waited for the bus to hit a bump and then launched ourselves as high up out of the seat as possible. Whoever went the highest, won. With three children of my own now who also occasionally ride the school bus, these types of games terrify me. When I hear of tragic school bus accidents, often due to children being unrestrained, I really start to worry. "GMA" Investigates, from "Good Morning America," was also concerned and spent some time digging into the question, "Can seat belts on school buses save lives?"

Related: More Safety News

Current laws require that all small school buses (less than 10,000 pounds) must have seat belts in them. There are only six states that require all school buses, regardless of size, to have seat belts: California, Florida, Louisiana, New Jersey, New York and Texas. Why aren't there more?

By Kristin Varela | February 10, 2015 | Comments (2)

2015 Ram 1500 Crew Cab: Car Seat Check

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Utility has many meanings when you're talking about the Ram 1500. Sure, it's capable in terms of its role as a pickup truck with its robust V-6 and V-8 engines and myriad combination of cab and bed sizes, but it also shines as a family hauler. We tested a crew-cab Ram in the upscale Laramie Longhorn trim and it easily and comfortably accommodated three child-safety seats in its gigantic backseat.

How many car seats fit in the second row? Three

More Car Seat Checks

By Jennifer Geiger | February 10, 2015 | Comments (0)

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