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 |  Mar 21 2012, 12:01 PM

Back in February, San Francisco, California-based KGO-TV had a news report on a “death wobble” affecting 2005-2010 Jeep Wrangler owners. A month later, two members of the House of Representatives have written a letter to NHTSA to get some answers as to what’s going on.

The members of Congress are describing the death wobble as a “serious safety issue” and aren’t demanding an investigation or a recall but simply want to know more about it through a series of questions to NHTSA. According to complaints, the death wobble is “a powerful shaking of the steering wheel and front wheels after a driver hits road bumps at speed,” and apparently NHTSA has received over 600 complaints about it since 1995.

Chrysler has already issued out the following statement about the death wobble:

Chrysler Group vehicles meet or exceed every applicable government safety standard and have excellent safety records. All manufacturer vehicles equipped with a solid axle are susceptible to vibration and, if experienced, it can be corrected by performing minor maintenance items, such as properly balancing or changing the tires, or a front end alignment, installing a new steering dampener, or by tightening or replacing other loose or worn parts. In fact, most reported incidents – in all manufacturer vehicles equipped with or without a solid axle – are often linked to poorly installed or maintained after-market equipment, such as lift kits, oversized tires, etc. This is not a safety issue, and there are no injuries involving Chrysler Group vehicles related to this allegation. Indeed, the name you’ve given to this condition has no basis in fact.

We wouldn’t expect any other response from the automaker, but it appears that the two members of Congress want to ensure NHTSA is doing their due diligence in evaluating the underlying cause and whether or not the death wobble could result in serious injury.

“The Jeep ‘death wobble’ is a serious safety issue that must be evaluated by NHTSA. It is also representative of the problems involving lack of transparency and access to reliable repairs that are present in other safety and defect cases,” the letter said to NHTSA.

The two members, Anna Eshoo and Henry Waxman are requesting a response in writing no later than April 2nd, 2012. We’ll be sure to follow up as to what they hear back.

Watch one of many videos on YouTube about the Jeep Wrangler Death Wobble below along with the news report.

Continue Reading…

 |  Dec 27 2011, 11:00 AM

The struggles of the electric car are well documented, and it appears that the struggle is not going away anytime soon.

According to the latest news, the Federal Government will pull its funding to ease the cost of buying an electric vehicle charger. Up until now, the Fed’s have been discounting these units as an incentive to get the public to buy an electric vehicle. In 2010, the deductions covered 50% of the cost, and in 2011 it was reduced to 30%. Now it seems that from 2012, no deduction will be offered to those buying these charging units.

If you use electric vehicles for commercial use, the savings were good for up to $30,000; but that will no longer be the case either.

Genevieve Cullen, the vice-president of the Electric Drive Transportation Association said that: “The timing of this couldn’t be more unfortunate”. Cullen and her supporters have been urging congress to extend the tax deduction, but it doesn’t appear to be working at this moment. However, if you buy an electric car now, you will still get the $7,500 tax credit offered by the government. So if you are thinking of buying an electric car, buy it before the government pulls its support from that program.

In 2011, the electric car and plug-in hybrids accounted for less than 2% of new car sales in the States.

 |  Nov 17 2011, 6:00 PM

 

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Believe it or not, hybrids are safer in a crash than their gasoline-only counterparts, according to a new study by the Highway Loss Data Institute.

“Hybrids on average are 10 percent heavier than their standard counterparts,” Moore said in a statement today. “This extra mass gives them an advantage in crashes that their conventional twins don’t have,” said Matt Moore, Data Institute President and author of the study.

The study didn’t include cars like the Toyota Prius and Honda Insight, which are only available as a hybrid. The study also counted other factors like who drives hybrids and how they generally behave on the road.

While the drivers and hybrids themselves may be contributing to improved safety inside the car, a separate study also conducted by Highway Loss Data Institute suggests that these cars are 20 percent more likely to hit a pedestrian.

The reason, they say, is that while running in electric-only mode they are too quiet, making them less noticeable to someone crossing the street.

Earlier this year, Congress gave the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration three years to decide on a standard for equipping hybrids and electric vehicles with a sound device to alert pedestrians.

Japan is the only country to currently enforce such a standard, according to a CNN article Moore sighted.

Despite that, it seems Nissan has already equipped their Leaf with a system to catch pedestrian attention. Toyota started including the feature on the 2010 Prius in Japan, and will add it to the 2012 North American Prius V.

[Source: Automotive News]

 |  Mar 16 2011, 1:50 PM

A House of Representatives committee introduced a bill that would stop the EPA from regulating greenhouse gas emissions from motor vehicles from the year 2015 onwards, a key part of a national fuel economy program that is actually favored by many automakers.

While the bill was supposedly passed in the interest of keeping vehicle prices low for consumers, automakers have previously backed a single unified fuel economy system, rather than various state-by-state regulations. The automakers have not commented on the bill, introduced by House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI), but reiterated their support for a national program. Upton’s bill would leave NHTSA as the sole federal agency that was responsible for the program.

[Source: Automotive News]

 |  Dec 05 2010, 5:17 PM

On December 1st, Fox 2 News in Detroit reported on a vehicle break-in. While this was nothing significant in itself, said vehicle was a Cadillac Escalade Hybrid and the items taken included two MacBook computers and some concert tickets.

But it gets more interesting. At the time, the Escalade was being driven by a 20 year-old, the son of Congressman John Conyers (D-Michigan), plus it was a vehicle leased by Conyers under the Federal government’s congressional car program, under whose rules Conyers’ 20 year-old son is forbidden from driving.

This program, designed to provide members of the assembly with vehicles (similar to company car programs offered to sales reps at many private firms), requires the government to purchase a vehicle which is then leased to the member of congress up to a certain monthly amount or percentage of the vehicle’s price tag. In California, which has a taxpayer funded state vehicle program, this includes up to $500 or 90 percent of the vehicle, which the lessee (the member of the assembly) then pays on a monthly basis. However, there are stipulations; the vehicle must be American made and/or a hybrid. Texas is another state that has a similar program.

Besides the vehicle, with these programs, the state or government also pays for mileage and maintenance (again, funded by taxpayer dollars), though according to a report by the Sacramento News & Review these programs are widely open to abuse. One case documented an assemblyman’s Mustang receiving a $25,000 repair bill, while another showed that one assembly member burned through 5,500 gallons of fuel in a year, with the bill again picked up by the taxpayers.

And in a time when California is broke, such oversights are making voters turn red in the face – and for good reason. With all the cuts in emergency services and education in the Golden State, the fact that such antics have been allowed to persist is clear indication of a State Government with skewered priorities.

In Federal circles, it’s argued things are even worse. Conyers’ Escalade retails for around $76,000 (the monthly lease payment on his Caddy is a staggering $1,256.66), while according to the NY Times, New York Congressman Gregory Meeks spent $998 a month leasing a Lexus LS460 at the expense of taxpayers.

Yes, there are some members of Congress who use the program wisely, purchasing affordable transportation for official duties, but it’s clear that others use it as a gravy boat to further their own lifestyles (there’s hardly a need for tax payers to foot the bill for a $70,000 luxury cars so elected officials can ride around in pimping style). But despite the Fox probe and another from the LA Times, there hasn’t been much follow up – for example, Fox 2 didn’t question why Conyers’ 20 year-old son was driving the Escalade in the first place.

However there is a one man army dedicated to waging a war against this kind of corruption. David Palmer, a self-proclaimed ‘Watchdawg’ has been having increasing success at exposing government corruption with a reputation of being a Pit Bull in the courtroom. Those public officials that have dismissed him as just another angry taxpayer do so at their own peril. However, judging by the state of things right now, we could probably use a few more people like him.

[Source: Sacramento News & Review]