• Recall Roundup

    Mar 05, 2010

    More major automakers have issued recalls as of late, so we would like to take a moment to pass along this critical information for fleet managers:

    General Motors Co. is recalling 1.3 million Chevrolet and Pontiac cars sold in the U.S., Canada and Mexico to fix power steering motors. The recall covers 2005 to 2010 Chevrolet Cobalts, 2007 to 2010 Pontiac G5s, 2005 and 2006 Pontiac Pursuits sold in Canada and 2005 and 2006 Pontiac G4s sold in Mexico.

    Nissan North America is recalling nearly 540,000 vehicles — the majority of which are in the U.S. — to inspect and, if necessary, repair brake pedal pins and fuel-gauge components on certain trucks and minivans. The vehicles involved in the recall to address the brake pedal pins are MY 2008-2010 Nissan Titans, Armadas, Quests and Infiniti QX56s.

    Autocar is recalling nearly 2,000 MY 2008-2009 ACX heavy-duty Class 8 trucks because of a problem with the steering gear mounting.

    If you have any of these vehicles in your fleet, take action to fix these problems before they cost you even more.

    Photo courtesy of themotoringchef under the Creative Commons License

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  • Automotive Fleet has more Fleet Safety Tips up this week, this time regarding the proper way to change lanes.  While some of these tips may seem like common sense, it is important to counteract any bad habits drivers may have gained over the years.  Pass these along to your drivers as a friendly reminder!

    • Make sure (by glancing in your rearview and side view mirrors,) that no one is preparing to pass you. Give a proper turn signal showing your intentions. 
    • Glance over your shoulder to check for traffic near the left or right rear corners of your vehicle. These areas are called “blind spots” because you cannot see them through your mirrors. 
    • Look in your left side view mirror when you are preparing to change lanes or pull onto the roadway. This will allow you to keep an eye on traffic behind and ahead of you at the same time. Check over your left shoulder just before you change lanes. To avoid a collision on a multi-lane road, check the other lanes to see if another driver plans to move into the same spot you do. 
    • Avoid slowing down suddenly. If you are forced to slow quickly, check behind you to see if other drivers are following close to you. By doing this, you may prevent a rear-end collision.

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  • Congressman Gene Green (D-TX) has announced plans to introduce legislation that will direct the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to mandate electronic data recorders on all new cars and trucks. 

    The legislation will seek to regulate a uniform minimum standard of information to be recorded on pre- and post-crash data. 

    Electronic data recorders (EDRs), also commonly known as black boxes, record certain information such as vehicle speed, change in forward speed, status of airbags, and whether safety belts are engaged. EDRs provide information that cannot be obtained through traditional investigation techniques and may be useful in determining whether a particular driver was at fault in an accident. 

    “Electronic data recorders are necessary tools to assist in crash reconstruction and to describe specific crash characteristics,” Green said. “This information is essential to ensure consumers are being properly protected in their vehicles and to improve future consumer safety systems.” 

    Green’s legislation, in addition to setting a uniform standard of vehicle criteria, will require a standardized EDR download tool; require accessibility by law enforcement, crash investigators, and emergency services; and require data reporting to NHTSA. Consumer privacy will be protected, he said, by restricted access of the information to official requests, where the law requires it, the request of the vehicle owner, or in connection with litigation. 

    Do you agree with a requirement for recorders in your fleet vehicles?  Leave us a comment below and let us know what you think.

    Photo courtesy of Jim Royal under the Creative Commons License

    • Industry News

  • Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. announced Monday that Toyota will be extending on a nationwide basis the additional services being provided to Toyota and Lexus customers in New York affected by the company’s recent recalls.

    These services, which were announced for New York customers on February 24, 2010, are now available to all Toyota and Lexus owners in the U.S. affected by current recalls involving sticking accelerator pedals, floor mat pedal entrapment, anti-lock brake system software updates, and Tacoma front drive shaft inspection. 

    Additional services are being provided to customers concerned about driving their vehicle before the repair is completed and will be tailored to the owner’s individual circumstances.  They may include:

    -Expediting scheduling of the repair.

    -Pick up and return of the vehicle by a dealership representative.

    -Driving the customer to the dealership or to his or her place of work.

    -Where necessary, providing other alternate transportation for the customer, such as a rental car, loaner vehicle, or taxi reimbursement for the reasonable period that the customer is unable or unwilling to use his or her car.

    “Our 172,000 team members and dealers across North America are continuing to go above and beyond to ensure the safety and satisfaction of all of our customers,” said Jim Lentz, president and chief operating officer of Toyota Motors Sales, U.S.A., Inc.

    Services will be provided by Toyota through the dealers at no cost to either the owners of affected vehicles or dealers.

    Reimbursement of these expenses is separate from the stipends that the company has provided to dealers in connection with the recalls.

    Detailed information and answers to questions about issues related to these recalls are available to customers at www.toyota.com/recall and at the Toyota Customer Experience Center at 1-800-331-4331 or the Lexus Customer Assistance Center at 1-800-255-3987.

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  • The cost of a ticket for texting or using a hand-held phone in California could soon be among the toughest in the nation if a bill introduced in the state senate becomes law.

    The bill introduced by Sen.Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto) calls for raising the base fine for texting from $20to $100 and for holding a phone from $20 to $50. But fees attached to the cost of the base fine can run more than four times the amount and turn a $100 fineinto a $445 ticket for a first-time offender. The previous fine was approximately $145. In addition, the ticket would also be a moving violation.

    For those who have multiple moving offenses and haven’t gone to traffic school to clear their record, the amount for one infraction could approach $1,000. Simitian has led the chargefor tougher laws on these forms of distracted driving for nearly a decade.

    The rules would also applyto bicyclists, who were not covered by the hands-free law that went into effect July 1, 2008.

    Nineteen states now ban text messaging by drivers, while Californiais one of six with a hands-free law. Since the hands-free law went into effect nearly 20 months ago, the California Highway Patrol has written nearly 200,000 tickets.

    The impact of the hands-free law is debatable, however. Studies have shown that the act of talking, not of holding the phone, causes the greatest danger.

    But Simitian is convinced the laws are helping, citing data that shows a 20-percent decline in fatalities and collisions in California in the first six months after the handheld ban took effect, compared to the same six-month period over the previous several years.

    Photo courtesy of D.C.Attyunder the Creative Commons License

    • Industry News

  • Here’s an update on the Arizona fleet we recently talked about during an embezzlement scandal.  It seems that the best way to change bad business behavior is with one’s wallet.

    Southeastern Arizona Behavioral Health Services (SEABHS) must make some changes or it risks losing a $35 million contract with the Community Partnership of Southern Arizona (CPSA), according to Nogales International.

    Neal Cash, president of CPSA, had concerns in December about an investigation by the Arizona Attorney General into embezzlement allegations; former agency CEO Dana Johnson’s alleged borrowing and never repaying $150,000; and spending on vehicles and auditing fees, among other items.

    Cash said a letter was subsequently sent because CPSA feels SEABHS has not followed requirements in the contract between the two agencies. Since 2006, tax documents show CPSA has given SEABHS between $29 million and $35 million a year, reported Nogales.

    For the company’s vehicle fleet, Cash said SEABHS will now be required to submit a plan to review current expenses and reduce unnecessary expenses. Last year, SEABHS spent $500,000 on auditing fees and $650,000 to maintain and manage a 119-car vehicle fleet, Nogales reported.

    The CPSA order means the issue will no longer be ignored.

    “SEABHS must update its policies and procedures to ensure appropriate use of company vehicles for SEABHS business and personal use by staff driving vehicles home and back to their assigned work sites,” Cash said. “SEABHS must appropriately report the monetary value for staff’s personal use of a company vehicle on the employee’s W-2 in accordance with IRS regulations.”

    Photo courtesy of Photos8.com under the Creative Commons License

    • Industry News

  • As automobiles have become more mechanically advanced and consumers’ tastes have grown more refined, the use of on-board computer systems is a modern necessity.  Originally installed to control emissions and fuel-injection systems, computers now control hundreds of operations in current auto models.

    The problem with this digital revolution is that the average person no longer has the necessary tools to learn to repair their own vehicles in a pinch, and some computer issues simply cannot be fixed or diagnosed even by experts.  The unpredictable nature of computer problems is what has spurred investigations into incidents such as recent uncontrolled acceleration in some Toyota vehicles. Congressional hearings in the coming weeks will investigate whether the problems are really with the electronic and software systems that control the flow of gasoline into a Toyota Camry or Lexus ES’s engine.

    New Hybrid vehicles, such as the Toyota Prius and Ford Fusion, require large electrical systems that command the engine to regenerate battery power during braking, or even to apply the brakes in the first place.  That amount of software increases the risk of bugs that can damage a car’s performance or even make the car dangerous to drive. 

    Ford Motor Co. is telling customers it plans to reprogram certain Fusion hybrids to fix a glitch that can cause consumers to feel they have lost stopping power. Toyota says it is moving toward a similar software fix for braking complaints lodged against the 2010 Toyota Prius.

    “We are in the learning curve on these systems,” says David Champion, the head of vehicle testing at Consumer Reports, which first reported on the problems with the Fusion Hybrid last week.

    It is important for fleet managers and drivers to pay attention to their vehicles’ performance and immediately address any issues before they worsen.  Your fleet’s safety is your number one priority.

    Photo courtesy of philcampbell under the Creative Commons License

    • Industry News

  • If your fleet has any usefor a Hummer, now’s your last chance toget one:

    General Motors has announcedplans to shut down the Hummer brand after the deal to sell it to a Chineseautomaker fell through on Wednesday.

    Hummer is the third brandthat GM is being forced to shut down as partof its bankruptcy reorganization last year. A deal to sell Saturn fell throughand GM is also closing the Pontiacbrand, which it never attempted to sell.

    The large SUV brand is basedon the Humvee military vehicle. It was always a niche vehicle but its image andsales were hit particularly hard by rising gasoline prices earlier this decade.Last year, GM only sold 9,046 Hummers, down 67% from 2008.

    Photo courtesy of gmeuropeunder the Creative CommonsLicense

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  • Founders of The Lollipop Tree specialty foods store, already facing a lawsuit, got themselves into even more potential legal trouble after they allegedly refused to turn over a company vehicle and attempted to hack into the business computer system, according to Foster’s Daily Democrat.

    According to the Democrat, the company’s court appointed receiver, James Ebbert, said Bob and Laurie Lynch allegedly refused to return a 2008 Chevrolet Suburban, which he said is now an asset of the bank. Ebbert also claimed that Bob Lynch unlawfully acted as a representative of the business following the bank takeover in order to make sure his company cell phone was not turned off.

    The lawsuit also claimed that the Lynches attempted at least 83 times to gain access to the store’s secure computer network.
    According to the lawsuit filed in
    Maine’s U.S. District Court on Dec. 16, the bank alleges that Lynch and his wife took a $600,000 loan on Jan. 25, 2004, and mortgaged their Rollinsford, N.H., home as collateral. The bank claims in their civil suit that the Lynches failed to make required monthly payments, despite notification made less than a year ago that they were in default.
    As of Dec. 14, the couple owed the bank more than $2 million in principal, interest, and late and legal fees, according to the suit. Interest of more than $400 a day continues to accrue.

    Company vehicles are a serious investment. Make sure your business can support its fleet!

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  • Automotive Fleet has some new Fleet Safety tips for what to do if you or any of your drivers should experience brake failure unexpectedly.  Pass these along to your drivers for safety’s sake!

    If your brakes fail, do not panic.  Simply follow these steps and find your way to a safe stop.

    1.Pump the brake pedal rapidly and hard several times. This will often build up enough brake pressure to stop the car.

    2. If #1 does not work, use the parking brake, but hold the brake release so you can let off the brake if the rear wheels lock and you begin to skid.

    3. If the car still won’t stop, shift to a lower gear and look for a place to slow to a stop.

    4. Make sure the vehicle is completely off the roadway, to the right if possible.

    5. After the vehicle has stopped, wait for help. Do not try to drive the vehicle to a garage.

    Photo courtesy of Kaptain Kobold under the Creative Commons License

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