Julie L. Cleveland
When automotive companies pay less attention to quality control than they do the bottom line, recalls are bound to happen. Many recalls can be avoided through better product planning and testing.
Vehicle Recalls Could Be Curbed With Better Quality Control
In the wake of the massive GM recall and fine, all the United States manufacturers should take a good, hard look at their production and communication policies. As if the GM recall was not enough, it was announced that Ford Motor Company is now recalling 1.4 million vehicles in North America. The majority of their recalled vehicles surrounds a power steering issue in the Explorer SUV, the Escape and the Mercury Mariner. These recalls cover vehicles manufactured as far back as 2008 up until the present time.
According to Ford, there is an issue in the Mariner and the Escape that involves a faulty torque sensor in the power steering column, which could result in loss of power steering. While still a power steering issue, the Explorer suffers from an intermittent electrical connection that can cause the power steering to fail. The GM issue was eerily similar in that heavy keys could cause the ignition switch to disengage, causing an entire failure of the electrical system in the vehicles.
This is not the end of the recalls for Ford. They have four active recall campaigns, and while the recall of 200,000 Ford Taurus models from the years 2010 to 2014 only focus on corrosion of the license plate lamp, that corrosion can cause a short, which can cause a fire. The corrosion issue is not so much the fault of Ford, but may be attributed to the areas that the cars are being driven, since it appears to be centralized in the Chicago area where the roads are salted in the winter.
Regardless, the next campaign sounds very much like the Toyota issue surrounding rapid acceleration. The floor mats in the Mercury Milan, Ford Fusion, Lincoln Zephyr and MKZ are ill fitted for the driver's side and may become caught up on the accelerator, which can cause a rapid acceleration. The all-weather floor mat was declared the problem in the Toyota recall as well. Although, the mat was eventually eliminated as the problem in Toyota's second wave of recalls, the floor mats seem to be a problem when they do not fit properly in the well. This may be a problem that should have been addressed in the quality control portion of the assembly of the vehicle. Surely, there is still someone who signs off on these things before the car is introduced to the buying public.
Import vehicles are not immune to the recalls. Toyota recently announced that they were recalling a total of a little over a half a million vehicles with over 400,000 of these vehicles being in the United States. Toyota's recall includes the Sienna and Highlander, as well as the GS 250 and 350 with the Lexus badge. Problems range from the spare tire falling off after the tire carrier erodes on the Sienna to some rather serious brake defects on the Lexus models. Additionally, there are problems with airbag sensors and engines that fail.
Is no one working in quality control anymore? While all of the fines and recalls get potential problems off the highways, there are still issues as to how these vehicles even got to the dealerships with these problems. It is as if the car manufacturers have adopted the same tactics that software manufacturers do, send out a beta test and let the public find the problems. People should not be beta testing cars. Although, some of the recall problems can be attributed to faulty computers or sensors, most are poor engineering decisions.
No matter how many fines the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration levies against the manufacturer or how low the reliability ratings go, apparently, these car manufacturers will continue to roll the dice and take a chance that the fines and lawsuits are lower than the cost of fixing faulty equipment. There may be less recalls if cars were better tested prior to hitting the highways.