The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announces hundreds of recalls a year, affecting millions of vehicles. In 2019 alone, 39 million vehicles and 14 million auto parts were taken off the road. But some recalls tend to attract a lot more attention than others, either because of the widespread nature of the problem or its potential to cause serious accidents — or both.
Two recent recalls, both addressing long-running manufacturing defects, are raising plenty of eyebrows. One is a recall filed by Honda with the NHTSA that affects 725,000 SUVs and trucks sold in the United States from 2016 through 2020. The models covered by the recall include 2016-2019 Pilots, 2019 Passports, and 2017-2020 Ridgelines. In these vehicles, the hood latch striker could become damaged and separate from the hood, causing the hood to fly open while driving, blocking driver visibility and quite possibly causing a crash.
Honda officials say they have received no reports of crashes or injuries to date from the hood problem. Service bulletins indicate the defect has its origins in improper setting of the gap between the hood and the grille, allowing excessive air pressure through the gap at highway speeds, which can cause hood vibration and damage to the latch striker. Vehicle owners should be receiving recall notification letters in a few weeks, but they can also contact Honda at 1-888-234-2138 to determine if their vehicle is subject to the recall.
Meanwhile, a recall at General Motors affects fewer vehicles but poses a big hit to the company’s reputation. GM is recalling virtually all of the 140,000 Chevrolet Bolt electric vehicles it’s sold, out of concern over battery issues that can cause a fire. Fifteen battery fires have been reported to date, prompting the decision to replace the battery cells in every Bolt. (Battery manufacturing defects were detected at two different plants.) Although the company that supplied the batteries is paying most of the estimated $2 billion cost of the recall, it’s one of the costliest recalls ever on a per-vehicle basis and raises questions about GM’s prospects in the expanding electric-vehicle market.
Checking for recall alerts on your own vehicle takes only a few seconds and should be an essential part of your vehicle safety and maintenance routine. Simply locate your vehicle identification number, or VIN, a 17-digit figure that can be found on your insurance card, your vehicle registration, your door jamb, or in the lower corner of your windshield on the driver’s side. Then enter it in the search box on the NHTSA recall search page. If there’s no issue, you can breathe easy. If it turns out there is a recall for your vehicle, schedule an appointment with your dealer so you can get back on the road with confidence.
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