July 12, 2012 — Federal regulations require auto manufacturers for notify the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) of its plan to issue a recall within five days of identifying a serious safety hazard. If they do not, they could face civil penalties. NSTSA has fined Volvo $1.5 million to settle claims that the company failed to address automotive safety concerns within a timely manner.
Although Volvo has not admitted any wrongdoing, the company has apologized and said it has “taken steps to improve the review process and analysis of potential quality and safety issues with our vehicles.”
The NHTSA found that Volvo failed to notify the agency of the following six recalls within a timely manner:
- 2010-11 Volvo S80, 2010 Volvo V70, 2011 Volvo XC60, 2010-11 Volvo XC70: The driver’s frontal airbag may not deploy, and therefore will not protect the driver from injuries.
- 2010-11 Volvo C30, 2010 Volvo S40N, 2010 Volvo V50: On vehicles equipped with 6-speed manual transmissions, the gear shifter may become loose, which could make it impossible to engage, disengage, or shift gears
- 2011 Volvo S60, S80, XC60, XC70: The engine could suddenly stall due to the engine’s fuel cut-off sensor being too sensitive
- 2008 -10 Volvo XC70: The tire information label lists an incorrect maximum inflation pressure
- 2007-10 Volvo S80: The tire information label lists an incorrect maximum inflation pressure. The tire pressure monitoring system has an incorrect trigger.
- Volvos equipped with Garmin 760 Portable GPS: The GPS batteries could overheat, leading to a fire
These recalls affected approximately 32,000 vehicles. Nearly half of the total vehicles were recalled for serious safety issues — because the driver-side airbag might not inflate, or because the car could suddenly stall unexpectedly.
The NHTSA has issued several of these types of fines in recent years. In February 2010, they fined BMW $3 million for failing to notify the agency of a recall. In May 2010, they fined Toyota $16.4 million for failing to act to correct sticking accelerator pedals.
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