By Tom Torbjornsen
Niagara Gazette — Flash! Once again the ticker is ticking and in an instant, automotive news gushes forth like a flood! Read on ...
New NHTSA mail notification on recall letters
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has introduced a new distinctive label that will be required to be affixed on all recall letters. The agency suggests many recall notices are mistakenly discarded by recipients, however the new label aims to prevent companies from purposely or accidentally disguising safety notices as junk mail.
“Recalls only work if consumers are aware of them,” said US Transportation Secretary Anthony Fox. “This new label will allow consumers to quickly recognize recall notices mailed to their homes so they can act quickly to get their vehicles, child restraints, tires, or other motor vehicle equipment fixed.”
The new label includes a red bar that alerts of “Important Safety Recall Information,” with logos for the NHTSA and the US Department of Transportation to help distinguish the official contents.
The agency notes that the label is “strictly limited” to use by recalling manufacturers, in an attempt to prevent the standardized label from being used by misleading sales and marketing materials. Federal regulators promise to work with the FTC and state authorities to enforce the regulations.
GM has issued a recall for 778,562 Chevrolet Cobalt and Pontiac G5 cars sold in North America.
The company suggests a defective ignition switch has been found to occasionally shut down the engine and disable electrical components, including the airbags, while the vehicle is underway. Heavy key rings or bumps in the road are said to be contributing factors.
Affected vehicles are known to have been involved in six front-seat fatalities from five front-impact crashes, along with another 17 accidents with nonfatal injuries, according to a Reuters report. In all cases the airbags failed to deploy, though GM argues that alcohol and failure to wear seatbelts were contributing factors in several fatalities.
The company notes that the defective ignition switches, manufactured in Mexico, fail to meet torque-performance specifications. Drivers have been asked to remove non-essential items from their key rings until they can bring in their cars to have the ignition switch replaced with a revised part.
The recall includes Cobalts with model years 2005 through 2007, along with the 2007 Pontiac G5.
Toyota has announced it is recalling 1.9 million Prius cars worldwide manufactured between March 2009 and February 2014 in order to fix a software glitch in the hybrid system’s boost converter.
A statement published online explains transistors in the boost converter can overheat under heavy load and fail without warning. If that occurs, the car automatically enters a mode called failsafe and loses a noticeable amount of power. In rare cases, the hybrid system can shut down entirely and immobilize the vehicle, regardless of what speed it is traveling at.
Owners of affected vehicles will be notified by mail or by phone in the coming weeks and asked to bring the car to their local dealer for a software update. The process is expected to take around 40 minutes.
Of the 1.9 million vehicles worldwide, 713,000 are registered in the US and Canada. For more info go to: Toyota.com/recall.
Consumer alert: 3.5M recalled cars sold online in 2013
Recently, Carfax released new data suggesting online shoppers may have unknowingly purchased millions of used cars with unfixed recalls in 2013. The company’s annual research on the issue shows more than 3.5 million cars were listed for sale online with an open safety recall.
“Open recalls are still a major public safety issue,” said Larry Gamache, communications director at Carfax. “In fact, our research indicates that more than one in ten used cars for sale online has an open recall. It’s another reminder that consumers, especially those shopping online, need to know as much as possible about a used car before they buy. This includes if an open recall or other potentially dangerous issue exists. It helps make our roads safer for everyone.”
Ignoring or not knowing about open recalls can impact a vehicle’s safety, performance, and resale value. To find out if your vehicle has an open recall, call your local dealer and ask the service dept to run a recall database search, make sure you have your registration in hand because the service advisor will ask for the VIN (Vehicle ID Number). Or go online to: www.safercar.gov and choose an open search, which will return all recalls and TSBs (Technical Service Bulletins) issued for your vehicle.
Pope’s Harley-Davidson sells for $327K at Paris auction
How much is a divine Harley? About $327,000 if it’s offered at an auction in Paris. Last week a private buyer acquired a Harley-Davidson motorcycle that was once gifted to Pope Francis for more than 18 times the estimated original selling price of $16,000 to $20,000.
One year ago, Willie Davidson, a former motorcycle designer and grandson to a co-founder of Harley-Davidson Corporation presented the then-new Pope with a new H-D Super Dyna Glide. According to the NY Times, the bike was gifted with the intention of selling it off for charity. The bike typically stickers for around $13,000, but following the ties to the Holy See, the value apparently skyrocketed.
Also crossing the block was a leather jacket to go with the bike, signed by Francis. That item sold for an impressive $77,485. But it was the Pontiff’s Harley that took home the whopping $327,000 – proving once more that the vehicles with true value go to Bonham’s Auctions in Gay Paree’ to be sold. The identity of the buyer, and the name of the recipient charity, has not been announced.
... Hummm, I wonder what a Pope-Mobile would sell for?
‘Til next time ... Keep Rollin’!"America's Car Show" with Tom Torbjornsen airs 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, 9 a.m. Thursday and 11 a.m. Saturday on WBBZ-TV.