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Accidents Caused by Hidden Defects in Steering and Braking

Steven R. Andrade Oct. 23, 2015

The highly publicized recalls of millions of vehicles for faulty air bags and defective ignition switches during the past year has made it easy to overlook the recall of more than 750,000 vehicles for faulty steering and brake systems that increase the risk of car accidents.

Ford said at the end of April that it was issuing a safety recall for approximately a half million 2013 through 2015 Ford Fusion and Lincoln MKZ vehicles and certain 2015 Ford Edge sport utility vehicles because of steering gear motor attachment bolts that may fracture. If the steering gear motor bolts fracture, the steering system may default to manual steering mode, making the vehicle more difficult to steer, especially at lower speeds. This would not result in a total loss of steering, but could result in an increased risk of a crash, Ford said.

In most cases, defects that lead to recalls only come to light after someone who had been injured in an auto accident or their family member asks a lawyer to conduct an independent investigation. A lawyer aided by consulting engineers and accident reconstruction specialists may find the defect in a brake or steering system, for example, caused by unreliable or ineffective design or the auto manufacturer's failure to construct components of the system properly. Sometimes the failure is due to incorrect installation, inspection or maintenance by a mechanic.

A product liability claim for faulty auto parts must show that the manufacturer knew or should have known that the defect existed and did not take adequate steps to resolve the risk it posed. As part of an investigation into potentially faulty auto parts, a lawyer will seek documents from the manufacturer, which may help prove the claim.

Few auto safety recalls generating headlines unless they are unusually large or they are found to have led to crashes that caused several serious injuries or deaths.

At the same time Ford recalled certain vehicles for steering gear issue, Ford was also recalling:

  • About 50,000 vehicles among the 2014 Ford Focus, Edge, Escape and Transit Connect models as well as the 2014-15 Ford Fiesta because of a possible stalling problem blamed on a failure of the fuel pump. Ford said it was aware of one report of an accident.

  • About 22,600 2015 Lincoln MKZ vehicles, because the headlamps may shine brighter than regulations allow in the park setting, and may adversely affect the vision of oncoming drivers. Ford said it was not aware of any accidents or injuries related to this condition.

  • About 100 2015 Ford F-150 vehicles for a potential issue with certain underbody heat shields that may be improperly installed or missing, increasing the risk of fire. Ford said it was not aware of any accidents, injuries or fires related to this condition.


  • Honda recalled about 19,500 model year 2014-2015 Acura MDX 2WD and AWD, RLX and 2014 Acura RLX Hybrid vehicles in May because, in certain driving conditions, the Collision Mitigation Braking System (CMBS) may incorrectly interpret certain roadside objects such as metal fences or metal guardrails as obstacles and unexpectedly apply the brakes. If the CMBS unexpectedly applies emergency braking force while driving, there is an increased risk of a crash, Honda said.

  • General Motors recalled about 14,800 the model year 2015 Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon trucks manufactured in 2014. The affected vehicles' front brake calipers may leak brake fluid, GM said, which could increase the stopping distance and risk of a crash. The failure is “due to air pockets, an imperfection in the metal caliper body,” GM said.

  • Hyundai recalled more than 200,000 vehicles in March that could have a power steering defect that increases the risk of a crash. The recall affects Elantra sedans produced between 2008 and 2010, as well as 2009 to 2010 Elantra Touring hatchbacks.

If you own a recalled car that you bought new from a dealer, you should receive notification of the recall and what to do to obtain repairs. If you bought an affected car second-hand in a private transaction, it's not very likely an official notice will find you.

Beyond recall notices, there are warnings like this one issued in April, in which the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says all cars from 2007 and earlier may be susceptible to brake pipe corrosion that can occur after exposure to winter road salts. If brake pipe corrosion is not properly addressed, there is the potential of brake pipe failure, which could result in a crash. NHTSA said it found brake pipe failures in a large number of 1999 through 2003 model year full-size pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles due to corrosion and simply wearing out.

Lawyers' Investigations Find Many Auto Defects

It is not likely that a person injured in an accident would have the knowledge or resources required to conduct such an investigation on their own. That's why personal injury attorneys like ours at Andrade Law Offices focus on assisting car accident victims.

If you have been injured in a car accident in Southern California, in which the cause is not immediately apparent, it may be that a vehicle defect is to blame. The best way to find out is to ask an experienced car accident lawyer to investigate.

The attorneys at Andrade Law Offices can start work on your case with a free legal consultation. If we see indications of an automotive defect, we'll investigate your case as thoroughly, and won't charge you legal fees or expenses unless we recover compensation from the liable party or parties for you. Contact us today to get started.