Monday

Cars With Most Recalls? "and the winner is"

Quality seems to have taken a nose dive lately, with top brands like Nissan, Lexus and Corvette vehicles being recalled by the thousands. So what vehicles should you avoid?

Business Week has announced the top 10 list of recalled 2006 model vehicles and any vehicle you should try to avoid is likely to be on the list.

1. The winner (so far anyway) is General Motors with a NHSTA Potential Affected Units total of 425,593 Chevrolet Express and GMC Savanna vehicles recalled. On certain full-size passenger, cargo, or cutaway vans, the front and rear seat-belt buckles will not latch or will not unlatch.

2. GM also takes second place (they should get a bonus prize) with a NHSTA Potential Affected Units of 404,733 Chevrolet Colorado, GMC Canyon, and Isuzu I-280 and I-350 recalled vehicles. Certain pickup trucks may experience the permanent loss of brake-lamp function or brake lamps that are illuminated at all times. The center high-mounted stop lamp is affected in both instances. Also, if equipped, the cruise control will become inoperative. Any trailer brake lamps that are connected to the vehicle's brake-lamp wiring will mimic the vehicle's brake lamps when either condition occurs.

3. Not wanting to be left out, Daimler-Chrysler takes third and fourth place. In third place, with NHSTA Potential Affected Units of 268,800 Chrysler Town & Country, Dodge Durango, Grand Caravan, and Caravan vehicles, it is reported that on certain vans and SUVs, the front windshield-wiper motor armature shaft may break. Okay, it may not seem like much, but it would if you were driving in a rainstorm when it happened!

4. In their fourth place position, with NHSTA Potential Affected Units totaling 256,409 Jeep Liberty 4x4, Wrangler, Dodge Charger, Durango, Magnum, and Chrysler 300 vehicles, the problem is that on certain pickup trucks, SUVs, and passenger vehicles equipped with automatic transmissions, the cup plug that retains the park pawl anchor shaft may be improperly installed. If the shaft moves out of position, the vehicle may not be able to achieve "park" position.

5. Next up is Ford with a NHSTA Potential Affected Units total of 211,432 Lincoln Mark LT and Ford F150 vehicles. Certain pickup trucks fail to comply with federal motor-vehicle safety standards and were built with a software error in the instrument cluster.

6. Importers aren't avoiding the list either. Nissan takes sixth spot with NHSTA Potential Affected Units of 205,000 Nissan Murano vehicles. They say that on certain SUVs, due to the location of the forward edge of the fuel tank, in the event that a vehicle front tire runs over a small, sharp object in the road, catches it, and propels it toward the rear of the vehicle, it may strike and puncture the fuel tank. Poof! Up in smoke!

7. Not satisfied with just the #6 spot, Nissan also takes #7 with a NHSTA Potential Affected Units total of 203,000 Nissan Murano for another safety defect. On some SUVs, in certain high-speed frontal crashes, the webbing of a rear outboard seat belt may contact the rear seat-back hinge where it can be cut by the sharp edge of the metal portion of the hinge.

8. Ford's windshield wiper motor recall helped Ford take the #8 spot, with a NHSTA Potential Affected Units total 199,942 Ford E150, E350, E450, E250, Ranger, Expedition, Escape, Explorer, F150, Taurus, Mercury Mariner, Mountaineer, Lincoln Navigator, and Mark LT vehicles being recalled because the windshield-wiper motor may have been produced without grease being applied to the output shaft gear. The result? They could fracture. Not a big deal, I suppose, unless it happens on the highway in a rainstorm. Then it's a big deal.

9. The luxury level Nissan Infiniti makes the list at #9 with 192,659 NHSTA Potential Affected Units involving the Infiniti FX35 and FX45 models. Seems that while refueling certain passenger and SUV vehicles, the fuel filler hose may crack and result in fuel leakage. Throw a little fuel here, a little fuel there, next thing you know you've got yourself a fire. Way to go Infinit, way to go.

10. Toyota's Prius is the only hybrid to make the "most recall" list so far this year with 170,856 NHSTA Potential Affected Units. The recall says that the intermediate shaft and sliding yoke in the electric power steering system reportedly can crack when "large forces" are applied. The connection may separate, or the sleeve may fracture. All that is "engineer speak" for the fact that you can lose your steering control and end up in a ditch (or a lot worse).

11. General Motors makes the "over the hump" area of the list with its power steering hose recall. The total NHSTA Potential Affected Units tops out at 123,592 and includes the Chevrolet Corvette, Tahoe, Trailblazer, Trailblazer EXT, Silverado, Express, Cadillac Escalade, Isuzu Ascender, Hummer H2, GMC Yukon, Savanna, Envoy, Envoy XL, Sierra, and Buick Rainier. Some of the power steering hoses were not built right and under what GM calls "extreme steering maneuvers" (like turning the steering wheel fully to the left or right while braking) the hose may fracture and leak fluid. When that fluid hits something hot, it can burn and your brand new Vette can go up in smoke!

12. Volvo (owned by Ford) enters the list at #12 with 122,431 NHSTA Potential Affected Units involving the Volvo XC90. On certain vehicles, if the wiper arm is activated in extreme winter weather conditions and without lifting the wiper arms and cleaning the windshield before moving, the wiper arm may slip on its driveshaft, resulting in an inability to move the wipers from the wiper's parked position. Wipers that slip are wipers that don't work.

13. Returning to the "most recall" list at #13 is Nissan again. This time with NHSTA Potential Affected Units topping out at 109,437 Nissan Quest vehicles. On some Quest minivans, there is a seat adjustment mechanism that contains exposed moving components located at the rear inside edge of the second row seat. The result? You can injure yourself just trying to adjust the seat. Nissan has the distinction of creating a defect that can injure without the car even moving.

14. Volvo takes the #14 spot as NHSTA Potential Affected Units hit 108,766 Volvo XC90 vehicles. On some vehicles, the outer tie rod ball joint can "deform" at high loads, causing a loss of the clamping force. The nut may loosen, which may lead to a "fatigue" fracture of the outer tie rod ball joint. This one can be a killer. Read about it, and look over the mechanical explanations and recall paperwork carefully!

15. Nissan just breaks the 100,000 vehicle barrier with NHTSA Potential Affected Units totaling 102,551 Nissan Maxima vehicles. Nhtsa reports that on certain vehicles equipped with the driver-preferred package, the wire harness from the driver's-seat power lumbar-support switch may be routed incorrectly, and could be pinched under the seat.

Best Effort for a Huge Worldwide Recall goes to Toyota with a reported NHSTA Potential Affected Units (Worldwide) of 418,570 (although the US total is a puny 34,700) vehicles involving the Echo and Prius models. Turns out that engine oil may penetrate a critical seal, resulting in an internal engine failure. Pundits wondered aloud, for the first time, if Toyota would be able to keep high quality standards as they push to exceed GM in vehicles sold worldwide.

"Best Effort to Create Massive, Multiple Manufacturer Recalls" goes to the headlamp manufacturer who caused NHSTA Potential Affected Units totalling 292,000 Toyota Matrix, Scion xB, Corolla; Mitsubishi Lancer; Ford F150, Expedition; Chevrolet Silverado; Dodge Ram; Honda Accord and Honda Civic recalls for headlight problems. It seems that some combination head-lamp assemblies that are sold as replacement lamps for use on certain passenger vehicles are not equipped with mandatory amber side reflectors. These lamps fail to conform to federal motor-vehicle safety standards.

If you've got a lemon, don't try to go it alone. We handle Lemon Law cases for free. Why? Because we don't think anyone should have to pay good money for what turns out to be a bad vehicle.

Call us at 1-888-331-6422 or email us today for Free Case Handling

Thursday

Why BBB Lemon Law Arbitration Doesn't Work

Every state has a Lemon Law (and Ohio's Lemon Law is one of the strongest) that can protect consumers but many manufacturers have nice close relationship with the BBB to arbitrate consumer Lemon Law disputes for them. Problem is, the BBB encourages the consumer to negotiate with the manufacturer and not go thru the BBB arbitration process at all, even when the papers have been filled out and are sitting on the BBB's desk!

The result? A merry go round, where the manufacturer tries to nickel and dime you into taking some money and keeping your car and, if you don't take it, when you file for the BBB they encourage you to get back on the merry go round and let the manufacturer take another crack at negotiating with you again. (One BBB website even pushes "Before initiating a case, parties are encouraged to contact the BBB mediation...")

After a while, many consumers just take the money. That's what Geri Lynn Maples (of Middletown, Ohio) did and now she regrets it. Her situation is a good example of why arbitration is like playing cards with a stacked deck.

She filed for BBB arbitration and ended up taking GM's offer money for 2 car payments. What she didn't realize? Taking the money was a "settlement" of her Lemon Law rights. So now her car is still not running right, her Lemon Law rights are gone, and GM (which saved a bundle by talking Maples into taking the money) can't be made to buy back Maples' lemon Chevrolet Cobalt, even though it's been in the dealer's repair shop over 20 times for numerous repairs. You can watch the tv news piece on Maples and her lemon Chevy by clicking here.

Moral of the story? DON'T TAKE THE MONEY! Otherwise, you'll be stuck with your lemon, not fixed, and the strongest of your legal rights gone down the drain. You can still have other legal rights, of course, but they aren't the easiest way to get where you want to be, which is rid of your lemon and your money back.

What makes it ironic (and more than a little disgusting) is that Maples' husband served in Iraq and they bought American because, like most people, they wanted to support fellow Americans working in American car factories. The problem isn't the people working in the factories --- it's the corporation that refuses to honor its obligations under the law in the first place.

With that sort of treatment, Maples is probably joining others who say BBB really should stand for Buyer Better Beware! Check out our FAQ's to get some answers about arbitration (and more) before you find yourself wasting your time and your money with the BBB.