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‘Tis the Season: Late 2011 Product Recalls

December 23, 2011

‘Tis the Season: Late 2011 Product Recalls

‘Tis the season once again… for product recalls, that is.  Seems like every year manufacturers announce major product recalls right  before the end of the year.  Is it because that’s when corporate board meetings take place and make tough decisions that cost them money?  Is it because with the rush of holidays and many families being on vacation the potential for bad press is lessened?  Like the shooter on the grassy knoll, these are things the rest of us probably won’t ever know.  Regardless, we decided to write about some of these late 2011 recalls so our friends and clients can have a heads up about these products.  

RECENTLY ANNOUNCED NHTSA RECALLS

 Nissan Sentra :  On December 14, 2011, NHTSA announced that Nissan will begin a recall of approximately 33,803 Model year 2010-2011 Nissan Sentra vehicles due to issues with the Electrical System/Battery/Cables.  The particular models affected by the recall are 2010-2011 Sentras equipped with MR20 engines manufactured between May 11, 2010 and May 22, 2010 and between July 8, 2010 and October 25, 2010.  The reason for the recall is that the zinc coating applied to the battery terminal stud bolts was thicker than specified, which can result in a voltage drop that may cause difficulty starting the vehicle and could cause damage to the engine control module.  The possible consequence of this condition is that it can cause the engine to stall while the vehicle is in motion and it may not be possible to restart the engine after it stopped, increasing the risk of a crash.  Nissan will notify owners and dealers will replace the positive battery terminal and cover, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin on or before January 23, 2012.

                       

Chevrolet Captiva:  On December 19, 2011, General Motors and NHTSA announced that General Motors will begin a recall of 3,150 Model Year 2010-2011 Chevrolet Captiva vehicles manufactured between October 2, 2009 and April 21, 2011 due to issues with the Steering/Hydraulic Power Assist/Power Steering Fluid.  The reason for the recall is that driving the vehicle with the transmission in manual mode and in first gear causes the engine and power steering pump to operate at a higher speed than is typical.  Increased pump speed generates heat that is transferred to the power steering fluid and can result in power steering fluid temperatures that approach the power steering pump reservoir’s melting point.  The possible consequence of this condition is that, after prolonged exposure to elevated fluid temperatures, the reservoir may leak.  Leaking fluid, in the presence of an ignition source, may result in a fire.  GM will notify owners and dealers will replace the power steering fluid cooler with an improved version, free of charge.  An advisory letter will be sent to customers, along with instructions in January 2012.  Parts are currently not available, but when they become available, GM will send another letter asking customers to take their vehicles to a GM dealer to have the repairs completed.  GM anticipates parts will be available in March 2012.

 

Navistar International Prostar Commercial Trucks:  On December 16, 2011, Navistar, Inc. and the NHTSA announced that Navistar will recall approximately 684 International Prostar Model Year 2012 Commercial trucks due to an issue with the electronic stability control system.  The affected models were equipped with feature code 04AZX Meritor Wabco Electronic stability control (ESC) units and were manufactured between March 22, 2011 and December 9, 2011.  Under certain road and driving conditions, vehicle body roll and road inclination characteristics may adversely affect the slip angle calculation of the ESC system, which might cause the ESC to perceive an over steering situation and therefore apply the outer wheel brake on the front axel until the vehicle is perceived to be stable.  The possible consequence of this condition is that if the driver is slow to react during this ESC intervention, the vehicle may deviate from the intended line of travel, increasing the risk of a crash.  Navistar will notify owners, and dealers will install a new ESC module free of charge.  Navistar did not immediately provide the NHTSA with a remedy schedule. 

 RECENTLY OPENED NHTSA INVESTIGATIONS

 Preliminary Evaluations

A preliminary evaluation is the initial phase of a NHTSA investigation and is prompted after a review of consumer complaints and/or manufacturer service bulletins suggest a safety defect may exist. The results of a PE determine whether the investigation will be upgraded to an Engineering Analysis or closed.

 Chevrolet Volt:  On November 25, 2011 the NHTSA opened a Preliminary Evaluation of the model year 2011-2012 Chevrolet Volt for post crash EV fire hazards.  This Preliminary Evaluation came after investigators discovered a tendency for the Volt’s battery to catch fire after a crash.  On June 2, 2011 three weeks after a Chevrolet Volt vehicle had been crash tested as part of a routine “New Car Assessment” the vehicle spontaneously burst into flames.  In three subsequent tests that simulated an impact to the Volt’s lithium ion battery, one of the batteries caught fire and a second emitted sparks and smoke.

 Engineering Evaluations

 An engineering analysis is the second and final phase of a NHTSA investigation.  It is undertaken if data from a Preliminary Evaluation indicates further examination of a potential safety defect is warranted. The results of an EA determine whether a safety recall should be initiated or the investigation should be closed.

 Saturn Aura:  On November 10, 2011 the NHTSA began an Engineering Analysis of the model year 2007-2008 Saturn Aura for transmission cable failure.  This Engineering Analysis follows a Preliminary Investigation that began in May 2011.

According to the NHTSA Office of Defect Investigation, the issue may involve the jacket covering the transmission shifter cable wearing out prematurely preventing the transmission from shifting into the gear selected by the driver.  NHTSA has received more than 100 reports of such transmission shifting failures, seven of which involved collisions. The NHTSA expanded its initial investigation of 2007 Auras to encompass model year 2008 Auras, including the Aura Hybrid. In all, some 89,000 Saturn Auras may be affected if the Engineering Analysis results in a recall. 

For more information:  Consumers can get more information, including remedies and contact information for the CPSC and affected manufactures at: http://www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/recalls/


RECENTLY ANNOUNCED CONSUMER PRODUCT SAFETY COMMISSION RECALLS


Bugaboo Car Seat Adapter:  On December 22, 2011, the CPSC announced a recall of 64,000 Bugaboo Car Seat Adapters made in China between December 2005 and July 2011 and imported by Bugaboo Americas of El Segundo, CA.  The model numbers of the affected products are 80400GC01 and 80401GC02.  This product allows an infant car seat to be removed and used in a stroller.  The safety issue with this product is that, under some conditions, the car seat can disconnect from the adapter and fall.

Circo Children’s 17” Travel Case: On December 22, 2011, the CPSC announced a recall of 139,000 children’s travel cases manufactured in China and imported by Target Corporation of Minneapolis, MN.   The affected models come in a “girls’” version and a “boys’” version.  The “girls’” version bears UPC code 6188421358 and date codes 1/11 through 8/11 and is either pink or teal with flowers, hearts and butterflies.  The “boys’” version bears UPC code 6188421358 and date codes 1/11 through 8/11 and is either red or blue with airplanes.  The date code for this product is on a tag sewn inside the case.  The safety issue with this product is that the surface coating on the product contains excessive levels of lead in violation of federal lead paint standards. 

Rayovac Cordless Tool Battery Pack:  On December 21, 2011 the CPSC announced a recall of  111,800 Rayovac battery packs used as replacements batteries for cordless tools.  The affected products were made in China and imported by Batteries Plus LLC of Hartland, WI.  They have “RAYOVAC,” “NI-CD” and a part number beginning with the letters “CTL” printed in white lettering on the product. The battery packs were sold in voltages ranging between 2.4 and 18 volts and came various sizes and shapes. They were sold as replacement batteries for Black and Decker, Bosch, DeWalt, Makita, Milwaukee, Panasonic, Ryobi and Skil tools.  The safety issue with this product is that it can explode unexpectedly creating a risk of serious injuries.  So far, the CPSC has received reports of five exploding battery packs.

Gel Fuel Fire Pots:  After receiving 65 incident reports of flash fires, including two deaths and 34 serious burn injuries, caused by gel fuel fire pots made and imported by various companies, the CPSC announced on December 19th that it will publish an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPR) aimed at improving the safety of gel fuels and firepots.

The ANPR invites written comments from the public regarding the risks of injury associated with gel fuels and firepots and also alerts the industry to the possibility of federal standards being introduced for the labeling or performance of a product, or a ban if no adequate standard can be found. The process gives manufacturers a chance to present evidence to show they have set up their own effective industry standards.

 

Build-A-Bear Workshop Beach Chairs:  On December 16, 2001 the CPSC announced that Build-A-Bear of St. Louis, MO had agreed to pay a civil penalty of $600,000 in response to CPSC allegations that Build-A-Bear failed to immediately report a defect involving its toy bear beach chair that resulted in incidents and injuries to consumers. The safety issue with the product was that sharp edges of the chair’s folding wooden frame can pinch, lacerate or amputate a child’s fingertip if the finger is caught between the frame as the chair is folded.

According to the CPSC, the company became aware of 10 reports of injury between July 2007 and January 2009, yet did not report to the Commission until March 2009.  Federal law requires manufacturers, distributors and retailers to report to the CPSC within 24 hours after obtaining information reasonably supporting the conclusion that a product contains a defect, which could create a substantial product hazard, creates an unreasonable risk of serious injury or death, or fails to comply with any consumer product safety rule or any other rule, regulation, standard or ban enforced by the CPSC.

Previous to this CPSC acton, the CPSC previously announced a recall of 260,000 beach chairs in May 2009.  The affected products were manufactured in China and imported by Build-A-Bear Workshops.  They consist of a wood frame, canvas seat, and some styles include an attached pillow. The toy chairs are blue (style #’s 002281, 004463, 009907, 011565, 102281, 109907, 111565), red (style #’s 007391, 011566, 107391, 111566), fuchsia/white stripe (style #’s 013226, 113226), or Orange/white stripe (style #’s 013227, 113227).

 Arctic Cat Snowmobiles: On December 15, 2011 the CPSC announced a recall of  7,100 snowmobiles made in the United States by Arctic Cat, Inc. of Thief River Falls, MN.  The affected models are model year 2012 F, XF, and M model snowmobiles bearing the following model numbers:

 

Model Name/Number

F

F800 LXR, F1100 LXR, F800 Sno Pro, F1100 Sno Pro/Limited/50th

XF

XF800 LXR, XF1100 LXR, XF800 Sno Pro High Country, XF1100 Limited/50th

M

M800, M1100, M800 Sno Pro, M1100 Sno Pro/Limited/50th, M800 HCR

 Recalled snowmobiles can be identified by the last six numerals of the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) in the following ranges: 105092 through 112175 or 800001 through 800033. The model name is located on each side of the hood. The VIN is located on the right side tunnel. The snowmobiles come in these color combinations: Black, White and Orange, Black and Orange, and Black and Green.  The safety issue with these products is that the headlamp fuse can fail, disorienting the operator during periods of limited visibility and posing a crash hazard.

Hamilton Beach Toasters:  On December 15, 2011 the CPSC announced a recall of about 14,000 Hamilton Beach toasters made in China and imported by Hamilton Beach Brands, Inc. of Glen Allen, VA.  The affected product is a chrome two-slice toaster bearing model number 22602, which is printed on the bottom of the toaster.  The safety issue with this product is that when it is first plugged into an outlet, the heating element can be energized although the toaster lifter is in “off “ position, which can pose a fire hazard.  So far the company has received 5 reports of toasters being energized when the toaster is plugged into an outlet.  Most of the affected toasters were sold at department, grocery and home center stores between August 2011 and November 2011, but some were also sent to consumers as replacements for Hamilton Beach model 22600 toasters that were recalled in June 2011.

E-Z-GO Golf Carts:  On December 14, 2011 the CPSC announced a recall of 21,900 TXT golf carts, Cushman shuttle vehicles and Bad Boy off-road utility vehicles made in the United States by E-Z-GO, a Textron Company of Augusta, GA.  The recalled vehicles are gas- and electric-powered, four-wheeled vehicles with bench seats for the driver and passengers bearing the following model and serial numbers:

Model

Serial Number

E-Z-GO TXT Fleet golf cars

2748187 thru 2770316

E-Z-GO Freedom TXT golf cars

2748187 thru 2770316

E-Z-GO TXT shuttle vehicles

2748187 thru 2770316

Cushman Bellhop shuttle vehicles

2748187 thru 2770316

E-Z-GO ST utility vehicles

2748187 thru 2770316

Bad Boy Buggies HD, LD and LTO utility vehicles

8000035 thru 8002809

 The brand and model names are printed on the side and front panels of the vehicles. Serial numbers are printed on a plate or label located on the exterior of the vehicle below the driver’s seat.

These products were sold at E-Z-GO and Bad Boy dealers nationwide between February 2011 and July 2011.  The safety issue with this product is that the threaded end of the rack rod ball joint can break and the ball joint can become displaced, causing the driver to lose steering control, which could result in a crash.  To date the manufacturer has received 71 reports of the ball joint breaking, 13 of which resulted in the ball joint displacing.

For more information:  Consumers can get more information about these recalls, including remedies and contact information for the CPSC and affected product manufacturers at http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prerel.html           

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