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The end of summer has been a busy time for vehicle safety recalls. August’s largest campaign was launched by Honda, which was forced to recall 2.49 million automobiles worldwide due to a transmission issue caused by an apparent software bug. A full 1.5 million of the affected vehicles were sold in the U.S. market. Specifically, the problem has to do with the software that controls the shifting of automatic transmissions found in the 2005 to 2010 Honda Accord sedan (equipped with a four-cylinder engine), the 2007 to 2010 Honda CR-V and the 2005 to 2008 Honda Element. In order to repair the problem, Honda will install a software update that will eliminate the chance that the transmission could become damaged while moving quickly through the gears, such as when shifting between reverse, neutral and drive in rapid succession.
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Ford’s recall of 1.1 million examples of its popular Ford F-Series pickup (as well as vehicles built on related platforms) also had a significant impact last month. The reason for Ford’s safety campaign has to do with a corrosion issue related to the straps that hold up the fuel tanks in its full-size trucks. 21 states which have been deemed to represent an increased risk of rust due to their climate are affected by the recall. Ford has committed to repair the straps on 1997 to 2004 Ford F-150’s, 1997 to 1999 Ford F-250’s and the related 2002 to 2003 Lincoln Blackwood pickups.
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Chrysler’s contribution to the recall roll-call is tied in with its lineup of minivans. 2008 models of the Chrysler Town and Country and the Dodge Grand Caravan (299,178 vehicles in all) have been found to feature a problem with their air conditioning systems that, due to a build-up of condensation on the airbag controller, can eventually lead to an airbag issue where accidental airbag deployment occurs.
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The final large recall campaign of the last few weeks implicates 241,000 versions of the strong-selling BMW 3 Series. The German luxury brand has discovered a flaw in its tail light and brake lights that, due to increased electrical resistance could eventually cause them to fail to illuminate. The recall affects 3 Series automobiles built between 2002 and 2005, and the company plans to individually notify owners and begin performing repairs on the affect lighting connectors within 30 days. Separately, BMW has also been forced to call back 2,120 2009 BMW X5 xDrive35d diesel sport-utility vehicles after the pre-heater for the crossover’s diesel fuel system was found to be impossible to turn off under certain circumstances. In extreme cases, the heater could start a fire in the vehicle, but most owners will experience either a rapid battery drain or localized heat damage.
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Several other automakers were forced to initiate smaller, yet still important recall proceedings for safety issues this past August. Porsche has found a problem with the seatbelt anchor plate in very recent editions (2011 and 2012) of its Porsche Boxster and Porsche Cayman compact sports cars, as well as its flagship Porsche 911 model. The plate was not properly secured to its mounting point, allowing the seatbelt to move out of the most protective position and potentially increase the risk of injury to vehicle occupants. Only 235 vehicles are affected by the problem.
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Nissan is dealing with a series of recalls touching on both the 2012 Nissan Altima and the Nissan NV van. Both vehicles were accidentally outfitted with a faulty airbag control unit, and although only 54 examples left the factory in this condition, the problem is serious enough that the airbags in either the Altima or the NV may not deploy in an accident. The 2012 Nissan Altima – as well as the 2011 edition – are also affected by a separate safety campaign to replace and properly tighten transverse link bolts in their suspension systems. The bolts were installed on the assembly line but were found to be too loose in recent inspections by the brand. If the bolts were to fail, the Altima could become undrivable, putting occupants at serious risk of injury. 20,000 Altimas are involved in the recall.
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Volvo and Chevrolet both find themselves facing a similar power steering hose problem in their full-size sedan offerings. 8,406 Volvo S80 models were sold with a power steering hose that was routed in a manner that could introduce dangerous pressure levels and eventually rupture the hose and cause a loss of steering control. The 2012 Chevrolet Impala’s problem routes the power steering hose too close to the vehicle’s very hot catalytic converter, which introduces the risk of melted hoses and a potential fire to go with the steering issues associated with a lack of power assist. 10,344 Impalas are involved in the safety campaign.
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The final recall on this month’s list affects the 2012 Buick LaCrosse. 4,077 versions of this sedan are affected by a problem with its StabiliTrak electronic stability control software. The system is not able to detect whether any of its sensors have failed, which means that should a sensor provide inaccurate data, StabiliTrak could intervene during normal driving conditions and potentially cause an accident. Buick will provide a software patch to correct the situation.
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