The Day the Wheels came Off

As automobiles get ever more complicated, designers seem to make ever more mistakes. At least that’s one conclusion you could make simply by scanning the number of recalls out there.



Do you own a 2011 to 2013 VW Jetta or Beetle? Nearly half a million of the vehicles have been recalled.

Let’s have a look at a partial list of current recalls:

More than 440,000 2011–2013 Volkswagen Jettas and 2012–2013 VW Beetles have been recalled for a suspension part that can collapse after a rear-end collision repair.

More than 435,000 Chevy Malibus built in 2011 and 2012 have a steel cable from the seat belt to the frame that can fatigue and fail.

Various 2015 models of the Subaru Forester, Impreza, Legacy, Outback and XV Crosstrek and the 2016 WRX with a safety feature called EyeSight have been recalled to fix a problem with the automatic braking system. The problem may involve more than 70,000 vehicles.

About 330,000 GM trucks, including 2007 and 2008 models of the Silverado Heavy Duty and GMC Sierra Heavy Duty, may have faulty air bag inflators.

Drivers of 12,300 Ford F-150 pickup trucks from 2015 could lose control of their steering because of an improperly riveted I-shaft.

Ford is also asking owners of 520,000 Ford Fusions, Lincoln MKZs and Ford Edge SUVs built from 2013–2015 to return them to dealers. Some seem to suffer fractures in steering gear motor bolts because of rust, which is more of a problem in states where highway departments use salt on snowy roads.

Kia has recalled more than 87,000 Forte sedans sold in 2014 because of a possible flaw in the cooling system that can result in a fire.

Here’s the big one: More than 30 million cars sold in the U.S. from 2002–2008 are under a recall notice for possibly defective front air bags on the driver’s side, passenger side or both. The recall of Takata air bags involves cars made by Honda, BMW, Chrysler, Ford, Dodge, Nissan, General Motors, Toyota, Lexus, Mazda, Subaru and Mitsubishi. Takata is reportedly making a million new air bags a month to replace them, but the effort could take years to resolve. Meanwhile, the air bags can explode and kill the driver or passenger.

In 2014 alone, about one in every four cars on the road was recalled. And although cars continue to get safer year by year, as many as a fourth of all cars recalled never get back to a dealer for the repair.

So you’ve got to wonder: Does all the talk about a future with no accidents because of the coming age of self-driving autos take into account the manufacturing defects helpless riders seem destined to encounter?

To your health and wealth,

Stephen L. Petranek
For, The Daily Reckoning

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Stephen Petranek

Stephen Petranek’s career of over 40 years in the publishing world is marked by numerous prizes and awards for excellent writing on science, nature, technology, politics, economics and more. He has been editor-in-chief of the Miami Herald’s prestigious Sunday magazine, Tropic, and has covered a wide range of topics for Time Inc.’s Life magazine. His...

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