New York Times: NHTSA Has 'Record of Missteps'

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A New York Times investigation into the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration alleges that the nation's top auto safety regulator spent the past decade stumbling over recalls and withholding its legal powers to regulate an auto industry with record-breaking recalls in 2014.

Perhaps the most damning part: Since 2000, automakers are required to report any claims of serious injury or death as a result of vehicle defects. NHTSA is allowed to make what's called a "death inquiry," which asks automakers to provide the cause of a given accident. But the answer is optional, and the vast majority of automakers decline to provide it. Prior to the publication of the article, NHTSA reversed its policy and now requires those answers.

Click here to read the story, which winds through airbag failures at Honda and fires at Jeep, plus NHTSA's subpoena powers and budget.

By Kelsey Mays | September 15, 2014 | Comments (1)

Child Passenger Safety Week: Protect That Precious Cargo

ChildPassengerWeek

Child-safety seats are an important part of keeping your child safe in your car. To be effective, however, they must be installed correctly. This is harder than it sounds; 3 out of 4 children aren't as safe in a car because their car seat is installed incorrectly, according to Safe Kids Oregon, a nonprofit agency dedicated to children's safety.

Related: Car Seat Checks

This week is Child Passenger Safety Week, a time to remind parents about proper car seat use and encourage them to check their children's car seats for correct installation and use.

At Cars.com, we have four editors who are certified child passenger safety technicians. We use our expertise to cover car-seat news and recalls as well as conduct Car Seat Checks with test cars that arrive at our Chicago headquarters.

For parents, here are a few stories and a video that will help ensure that they're using their child's car seat correctly:

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

GM Issues Stop Sale on 2015 Chevrolet Corvettes

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GM has issued a stop-sale order on about 2,800 new Chevrolet Corvettes, a spokesman for the automaker told The Detroit News. GM spokesman Alan Adler told the newspaper that the Detroit automaker has instructed dealers to halt delivery on about 2,000 model-year 2015 Corvettes to repair a problem with the driver-side airbag, and has temporarily stopped shipments of the high-performance sports cars from its Bowling Green, Ky., assembly plant.

Related: GM Ignition-Switch Recall: What Owners Need To Know

Another 800 Corvettes, most still at dealerships, were also placed on hold because they may have been built with only one of the rear parking brake cables fully seated and engaged. The part must be inspected to ensure the brake is operating on both brake drums, Adler told the newspaper. Adler said very few of the 2,800 were already in customer possession, and would not say whether the stop sale would be followed by a recall. Get the full story from The Detroit News.

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By Matt Schmitz | September 12, 2014 | Comments (4)

Recall Alert: 2005-2008 Ford Escape, 2006-2008 Mercury Mariner Hybrids

2008FordEscapeHybridRecall

Vehicles Affected: More than 70,000 hybrid crossovers, including model-year 2005-08 Ford Escape hybrids manufactured between Oct. 13, 2003, and June 20, 2008, and 2006-08 Mercury Mariner hybrids manufactured between June 10, 2005, and June 20, 2008

The Problem: The coolant pump for the hybrid system may fail, resulting in the hybrid electronics overheating; if this happens it may shut down the powertrain, resulting in a stall-like condition and increasing the risk of a crash.

The Fix: Ford will begin notifying owners Oct. 27, and dealers will inspect and replace the original motor electronics coolant pump with an improved, brushless pump for free.

What Owners Should Do: Owners can call Ford at 866-436-7332, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's vehicle-safety hotline at 888-327-4236 or go to www.safercar.gov for more info.

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

More Recalls

By Matt Schmitz | September 12, 2014 | Comments (0)

Detroit Tops U.S. In Car Insurance Costs

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Detroit isn't just the car capital of the U.S. — it's also the king of car-insurance costs. According to insuranceQuotes.com, a subsidiary of finance-info provider Bankrate Insurance, the Motor City and its metropolitan area lay claim to the dubious distinction of having the most expensive auto insurance in the nation.

Related: Know Your Limits: Minimum Auto Coverage Varies by State

Detroit-area drivers on average pay 165 percent more than the national average for car insurance, followed by New York, where motorists pay 36 percent more, and Miami, 34 percent more. The least expensive premiums, the website stated, are enjoyed by Charlotte, N.C., where area residents pay 43 percent less than the national average; Cleveland, 31 percent less; and Pittsburgh, 24 percent less.

By Matt Schmitz | September 12, 2014 | Comments (2)

Recall Alert: 2011-2012 Mercedes-Benz S-Class

2012MercedesBenzS65AMGRecall

Vehicles Affected: More than 150 model-year 2011-12 Mercedes-Benz S-Class luxury sedans, including the S550, S550 4matic, S63, S600, S65 AMG and S400 Hybrid, all manufactured between March 3 and July 30, 2011

The Problem: The tire pressure monitoring system indicators may only illuminate for a portion of the time required by federal standards, and under certain conditions may not re-illuminate immediately after the vehicle is restarted, as required. If all four wheel sensors are simultaneously malfunctioning or missing, the tire pressure monitoring system will provide an initial warning, but the warning will not automatically repeat on subsequent ignition cycles, failing to remind the driver that the system is offline. Driving unknowingly with incorrectly inflated tires may result in sudden tire failure, increasing the risk of a crash.

The Fix: Mercedes-Benz will begin notifying owners this month, and dealers will reprogram the tire pressure monitoring unit for free.

What Owners Should Do: Owners can call Mercedes-Benz at 800-367-6372 or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's vehicle-safety hotline at 888-327-4236, or go to www.safercar.gov, for more info.

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

More Recalls

By Matt Schmitz | September 11, 2014 | Comments (0)

Recall Alert: 2013 Mercedes-Benz GLK350, GLK350 4matic

2013MercedesBenzGLK350-4MaticRecall

Vehicles Affected: More than 200 model-year 2013 Mercedes-Benz GLK350 and GLK350 4matic luxury crossovers manufactured between May 31 and Aug. 2, 2012

The Problem: Voltage in the parking lamp circuit exceeds the maximum allowable value. The higher illumination level may cause glare to oncoming vehicles, increasing the risk of a crash.

The Fix: Mercedes-Benz began notifying owners this month, and dealers will update the software calibration number of the subject control unit for free.

What Owners Should Do: Owners can call Mercedes-Benz at 800-367-6372 or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's vehicle-safety hotline at 888-327-4236, or go to www.safercar.gov, for more info.

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

More Recalls

By Matt Schmitz | September 11, 2014 | Comments (0)

Toyota: Precollision Systems 'Widely Available' by 2018 Model Year

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Toyota says it plans to introduce new collision mitigation technology in 2015 and hopes the technology will become widely available — but not necessarily standard — across the automaker's lineup by the 2018 model year. Company executives recently told The Detroit News that the automaker would install collision-prevention systems across its lineup by 2017, but spokesman Moe Durand later clarified to Cars.com that the date reflected the 2017 calendar year, which translates to the 2017 or 2018 model year depending on the rollout.

Related: 2015 Toyota Sienna Price Jumps $1,680 Over 2014 Model

In what the automaker calls "all-new, multifeature active safety systems" that incorporate "precollision" technology, Toyota will introduce such systems ahead of any government mandate, Seigo Kuzumaki, deputy chief safety technology officer, told reporters last week.

Collision-prevention systems encompass a number of emerging technologies. Chief among them is forward-collision warning, which alerts you if you're closing fast on a slower car or stationary object. If you ignore the warning many such systems can hit the brakes just before impact. A number of Toyota models — the Prius hybrid and Highlander SUV plus every Lexus — already offer collision warning as an option. But it's missing on a number of affordable cars, including the Toyota Corolla and every Scion. Toyota will offer precollision technology even in its "most affordable compacts," Kuzumaki said, but it's unclear whether that includes Scion. A Toyota spokesman didn't respond to our query.

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

Should You Use the Apple Watch in Your Car?

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Apple just took the wraps off its new iPhone 6, which ships on Sept. 19 for a contract-tethered starting price of $199. Along with the phone came a new — and much-anticipated — device from the Cupertino, Calif., company: the Apple Watch. Apple's first foray into the field of wearable devices, which are multiplying like digital rabbits, the Apple Watch heralds new ways to do a lot of old things: text messages, checking the weather and social media, but it also has maps and turn-by-turn directions built in. It will start at $349 and be available in early 2015.

Related: Navdy Rethinks the Head-Up Display

Having all this information on your wrist may be as convenient — or more so — than having it on your phone, but looking at your wrist while driving may not be an advisable experience for drivers.

By Kelsey Mays | September 10, 2014 | Comments (2)

Recall Alert: 2014 BMW i3, Mini Cooper Hardtop

2014BMWi3Recall

Vehicles Affected: Nearly 30 model-year 2014 BMW i3 electric vehicles manufactured March 31, 2014, and Mini Cooper Hardtop cars manufactured between Feb. 2 and May 30, 2014

The Problem: The airbag inflator may not have been assembled correctly, preventing the airbag from deploying properly in a crash and increasing the risk of an injury.

The Fix: BMW will begin notifying owners this month, and dealers will replace the front passenger side airbag for free.

What Owners Should Do: Owners can call BMW at 800-525-7417, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's vehicle-safety hotline at 888-327-4236 or go to www.safercar.gov for more info.

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

More Recalls

By Matt Schmitz | September 9, 2014 | Comments (0)

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