Sunday

Top Auto Industry Screw Ups

We have to give the folks at ConsumerAffairs.com credit for creativity --- and accuracy too.
They just released their list of "Top Ten Automotive Outrages of 2007" and they hit the nail on the head.

Ford scores big with 3 of the "top ten" spots, for their flaming Fords (almost 11 million vehicles recalled since 2005), the Ford truck spitting spark plugs (an expensive non-warranty $3,000 repair) and the Focus ignition fiasco (a model with the worst recall record of anything on wheels since 1980). Those were so well known that they could be expected and have been long time big safety issues for the public.

Airbags that won't go boom when they should are the #1 issue. They reported on numerous accidents that should have caused air bags to deploy but didn't. While manufacturers say that airbags aren't supposed to deploy in all accidents (that's their excuse) we've seen some accidents that were so severe that common sense dictates the air bag should have gone off but it didn't. Even the experts are baffled and tend to just trust the science behind the system more than their instinct on this one. The odds are that the airbag issue will continue to be debated.

Then there's GM's truck brakes (nearly 1.4 million recalled), but worse still is the GM Onstar abandonment (built on a now-outmoded and abandoned technology, leaving hundreds of thousands of GM Onstar customers without any recourse at all).

While Jeeps that jump, the Prius unintended acceleration problem, and the BMW transmissions
are their own problem, the biggest issue we see? The federal safety department itself, Nhtsa.

Yes, folks, it's your tax dollars at work. Business as usual in Washington. Lobbyists in bed with the regulators. Lots of those slogans seem to fit the folks at Nhtsa nowadays and only a change in administration will change Nhtsa, an agency run by folks who seem to think that big money political donors matter more than peoples' safety.

These are the people who gave the okay for "geographic recalls" that allowed some defective vehicles to be driven around without their owners knowing of their defects, while requiring others to be recalled to fix the same defect, purely based on where you live.

They're the same folks who keep some defect safety investigation files secret, working hand in glove with big business. Yup, that's a great use of your tax dollars, folks...figure out the problem and then bury it away where no one can find it.

Although hounded by consumers and watchdogs, Nhtsa turned down a request to investigate the big Ford engines that dangerously spit out spark plugs, saying that "In the need to allocate and prioritize limited resources to best accomplish the agency's safety mission," they just couldn't spare the manpower and didn't think flying spark plugs was all that big a deal. (Federal Register, Vol. 60, No. 138).

That's because they weren't the ones who had to duck when the spark plugs went flying, no doubt.

The upper level management at Nhtsa gives direction and authority for the lower level safety investigators who do the real work. In short, for years the people at the top have been tieing the hands of the people at the bottom, hamstringing any serious effort to investigate some deadly
defects that pose serious risk and danger to the public.

It ought to be embarrassing. Instead, it's just business as usual on both ends of the phone line that runs between Washington and Detroit.

Well, if they won't help you, we will. If you've got a lemon, we'll help you get rid of it. Call (1-888-331-6422 Toll Free) or email us. Fighting back is what we do. It's what we've done since 1978. We're not going to stop now.