Friday, August 30, 2013

New Rule Makes Motor Vehicle Recalls Easily Accessible

The U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration ("NHTSA") announced on August 14, 2013 that it will now require automakers and motorcycle manufacturers to provide consumers with a free online tool enabling them to search recall information for individual vehicles by Vehicle Identification Number (VIN).  To read NHTSA's Press Release, click here.   
This online feature will allow consumers to instantly determine whether action is required to address an uncompleted safety recall that affects their personal vehicle, or a used vehicle which they are considering purchasing. The information must be updated weekly, at minimum, and automakers and motorcycle manufacturers have one year to comply with the new rule.

The goal of the new rule is to increase recall completion rates (reportedly at about 70%) through greater consumer awareness.  The new rule also requires automakers and motorcycle manufacturers to use the Department of Transportation’s logo on recall letters sent to owners.  It is hoped that this will further emphasize the importance of the communication.  The new rule also requires automakers and motorcycle manufacturers to inform NHTSA what type of propulsion system and crash avoidance technologies their vehicles have.  It is expected that this information will assist NHTSA in its efforts to spot "defect trends related to these systems and technologies". 
Many automakers already have this feature for consumers on their own sites. In fact, the Center for Auto Safety has a recall section that links to the sites of all automakers that already provide consumers with recall searches. For a link to the site, click here.

One thing is for sure-- this new rule will allow consumer to be better informed before purchasing a used car, truck, or motorcycle.

Beth Wells

Helping Consumers Get Rid of Lemons, 9 Years Running

Monday, August 26, 2013

Keeping Kids Safe Around Motor Vehicles

Believe it or not, 3 out of every 4 car seats is used incorrectly. As a result, one of the leading causes of death for children 1-13 is vehicle crashes.  

In order to help keep kids safe, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration ("NHTSA") has released a booklet, "A Parent's Guide to Playing it Safe with Kids and Cars".  This booklet is designed to equip parents with easy-to-understand information about today’s vehicle safety features, car seats and how to keep kids safe in and around vehicles.

According to NHTSA, the top 4 things that you should always remember about kids and cars is:
(1) Use a car seat for every trip, even when you're just going down the street;
(2) Select a car seat based on your child’s age and size, and always follow the manufacturer's directions;
(3) Make sure your car seat is compatible with your vehicle by checking the car seat manufacturer’s instructions;
(4) Keep kids in the back seat at least through age 12.
So, keep your kids safe!  To read the complete booklet, click here, then click on the PDF link for the booklet.
Beth Wells

Helping Consumers Get Rid of Lemons, 9 Years Running

Friday, August 23, 2013

VW Microbus To End Production After 56 Years

Volkswagen announced that it is ending production of its Kombi Microbus after a 56 year run in Brazil.  The final edition, called the Volkswagen Kombi Last Edition, will be made in just 600 copies, complete with a numbered plaque on the interior of the vehicle and a certificate of authenticity.
The original 1957 Kombi came equipped with an air cooled 1.2 liter flat-four engine, mounted in the rear, with 28 horsepower. By 2005, the Kombi was running on a 1.4 liter water cooled engine.  And, the current Kombi comes equipped with a 1.4 liter inline-4 that touts 78 horsepower on gasoline and 80 horsepower on ethanol.  Certainly a dramatic boost in horsepower since the 1950s!
The Kombi Microbus has not been available in the United States for some time, but it has been a cheap and cheerful staple of transportation in Brazil.  Unfortunately, emissions and safety standards in Brazil have caught up with the Kombi and forced Volkswagen to end production of its legendary model once and for all.

The Volkswagen Kombi Last Edition will be sold only in Brazil for 85,000 reais ($35,637) and will come with a light blue and white paint job, whitewall tires, white wheel caps, tinted windows, blue side rear curtains with the Kombi logo, blue and white vinyl seats for up to nine people, and a modern stereo system that uses LED accents and has the capability to use USB or MP3 inputs.

While the Kombi has certainly stood the test of time, it has sadly been unable stand the test of modern safety and emissions standards in Brazil and elsewhere.  Goodbye Kombi, we'll miss you!

Beth Wells
Helping Consumers Get Rid of Lemons, 9 Years Running

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Chevrolet Impala Rated Top Sedan by Consumer Reports

For the first time in more than 20 years, the auto editors at Consumer Reports have rated a U.S. model as the best sedan in the market.  So what model you ask?  The 2014 Chevrolet Impala!

Consumer Reports rated the newly redesigned 2014 Chevrolet Impala at 95 out of 100, one of the highest ratings for a sedan by Consumer Reports ever.

The 2014 Chevrolet Impala was completely redesigned from its 2013 counterpart, which scored a mediocre 63 out of 100 in Consumer Report ratings last year.  In fact, Consumer Reports described the 2013 Chevrolet Impala as "outdated", did not recommend the vehicle, and even went so far as to advise consumers to avoid the vehicle "even as a free upgrade at the rental-car company."  While the reasoning for the complete redesign is certainly speculative, the beating that the 2013 Chevrolet Impala took by Consumer Reports certainly may have provided some serious encouragement.

The 2014 Chevrolet Impala is based on the same platform as the Cadillac XTS, and has been praised by Consumer Reports not only for the way it rides and handles, but also for its interior.  According to Consumer Reports, this vehicle literally sets the new standard for fit and finish in Chevrolet motor vehicles with high-quality materials and trim.  And, according the Consumer Reports, "The Impala is competitive with cars that cost $20,000 more." The 2014 Impala starts at just under $27,000.

The 2014 Impala is just one of 20 new or re-designed models that GM is releasing this year.  And, since only about 30% of those models have hit showrooms in 2013, the second half of this year will be a critical period for the automaker.  

Beth Wells
Helping Consumers Get Rid of Lemons, 9 Years Running

Monday, August 19, 2013

Spartan Industries, Inc. recalls commercial truck due to "inadvertent engine shutdown"

Spartan Industries, Inc. has recalled about 330 model year 2012-2013 Utilimaster Reach commercial trucks.  According to Spartan Industries, Inc., the vehicles have a software problem that may cause them to have inadvertent engine shutdown without warning, and possibly resulting in a crash.
According to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration ("NHTSA") Spartan Industries, Inc. will notify vehicle owners directly, and its authorized dealers will replace the control modules in the affected vehicles free of charge.  Owners may also contact Spartan Industries, Inc. direct at 1-800-582-3454.

According to the Utilimaster website, the "aerodynamic" body of the Utilimaster Reach is built on an Isuzu diesel chassis with a 4JJI-TC 3.0 liter turbocharged four cylinder diesel engine, and offers 35% better fuel economy than traditional walk-in vans.  The Reach is available in lengths of 12' or 14' and provides 540 or 630 feet of storage, plus up to 27 inches more headroom than a conventional cargo van.   
Do you have a 2012-2013 Utilimaster Reach that experienced the engine shutdown, has been in the shop for repairs, but is still not fixed?  If the vehicle was purchased or repaired in Ohio or Kentucky, then you can call Burdge Law Office on our Toll Free Hotline, 1.888.331.6422, to see if we can help you out of your "lemon" Utilimaster Reach.

Beth Wells
Helping Consumers Get Rid of Lemons, 9 Years Running

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

June Car Sales Stay Strong

After the release of June car sales figures,  the seasonally adjusted annualized sales rate came in at 15.98 million.  It has been 66 months since the industry saw a sales rate that high--  15.82 million in December 2007.  

With the high rate for June sales, it appears that there will be another sales increase for 2013, making it four years straight.  In fact, industry experts predict the sales increases to last through at least 2015.  The last time the auto industry saw sales increases for more than 6 years straight was 1909-1917.     

Among the highlights of the month include:
-The Detroit "Big 3" gained share in the first half of the year for the first time in 2 decades;
-Double digit increases for: Porsche, Subaru, Cadillac, and Dodge;
-Decreases for five brands: Smart, Mitsubishi, Lincoln, Kia, and Volvo;
-Mercedes-Benz has had its 44th straight month of sales increases;
-Honda posted a 10% sales increase for June 2013;
-Ford sales were up 13% in June, the best performance since 2006.

With sales rates for new vehicles on the rise, lemon law claims are also expected to rise.  So, if you think you have a lemon new vehicle, then contact a lemon law attorney in your state.  You can find one at 

Beth Wells
Helping Consumers Get Rid of Lemons, 9 Years Running

Tuesday, August 13, 2013 Sues Online Reputation Management Company for Posting False Dealer Reviews has field a lawsuit against online reputation management company Humankind Design Ltd. for allegedly posting and attempting to post fraudulent consumer reviews on its site. 

Humankind Design Ltd., out of Friendswood, Texas, helps companies with reputation management.  According to its web site, the business can help improve Google and Bing results by pushing down the bad reviews with good ones.  

According to, Humankind Design Ltd. attempted to register almost 2,200 fake members on the site and on behalf of 25 car dealers.  Edmunds claims that Humankind Design Ltd. attempted to post its first fake review on January 22, 2013 and, in early March, employees monitoring the reviews identified a large number of registrations that were generating reviews that were not real and traced those reviews back to Humankind. 

Apparently, anyone posting a review on is required to first agree to its membership agreement.  This membership agreement forbids the use of profanity and posting anything that isn't based on the poster's personal knowledge.  Members also agree to only register once under a single name, and not to register under another person's name or to chose a user name designed to deceive or mislead.

Justin Anderson, owner of Humankind, reportedly denied that the company is posting fraudulent reviews online.  However, he admitted that the company does post comment cards that its dealership clients send them.

The alleged actions of Humankind Design Ltd. certainly makes one weary of relying on online reviews.  However, you should still consult online reviews of a local car dealership before purchasing a car. This is especially true when purchasing a used car.   However, where you see negative reviews, be weary of similarly worded positive reviews that crop up around the same time-- there is nothing stopping a car dealership from posting "bogus" positive reviews in response to negative ones.  And, apparently, there is nothing stopping a car dealer from hiring someone else to do their dirty work. 
Beth Wells
Helping Consumers Get Rid of Lemons, 9 Years Running


Friday, August 9, 2013

Ford's F150 Ecoboost Engine Under Federal Investigation

The pride and joy of Ford Motor Company-- the F150 pickup with Ecoboost engine-- is under investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration ("NHTSA").  According to the complaints filed by consumers with NHTSA, and the various lawsuits filed against Ford Motor Company, the trucks stumble and stall on hard acceleration.

According to NHTSA, the investigation involves about 400,000 2011-2013 Ford F150 trucks with Ecoboost engines.  The 3.5 liter Ecoboost V-6 engine is in about 40% of Ford F150 trucks.  The Engine uses a combination of turbocharging and direct injection to boost power from a relatively small engine.

The NHTSA defect investigation was preceded by 2 separate technical service bulletins issued by Ford Motor Company itself.  In Ford Technical Service Bulletin ASI-32166, Ford advises that some 2011-2013 Ford F150 trucks with the 3.2 liter Ecoboost engine will exhibit a flashing malfunction indicator light and intermittent stumble or misfire during hard acceleration under extreme humid or damp conditions.  Similarly, according to Ford Technical Service Bulletin 13-1-10, some 2012-2013 Ford F150 trucks with the 3.2 liter Ecoboost engine will buck and jerk after startup with a cold engine and Ford instructs its dealers that the Powertrain Control Modules for these vehicles should be reprogrammed to a higher calibration.
To read more about the defect investigation, the consumer complaints submitted to NHTSA, and Ford's technical service bulletins on the vehicle, click here.

Do you own a 2011-2013 Ford F150 with a 3.2 liter Ecoboost engine? Has the truck hesitated, stumbled, jerked, or stalled on hard acceleration? Has the vehicle been in the shop repeatedly for repairs but it is still not fixed?  If you have taken your truck back to the shop repeatedly but the dealer hasn't fixed your truck within 3 attempts, you may have a lemon.
Take the Ohio Lemon Law Test at, or in Kentucky at to see if you are entitled to get a new truck or your money back.  If so, call us on our Toll Free Hotline at 1-888-331-6471.  And, if you are thinking about getting a new 2013 Ford F150 with a 3.2 liter Ecoboost engine, then you may want to hold off until Ford figures out how to fix the current models under investigation.

Beth Wells
Helping Consumers Get Rid of Lemons, 9 Years Running

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Yamaha Issues Wiring Harness Safety Recall

Yamaha Motor Corporation, USA is recalling 3,900 2014 Yamaha Bolt motorcycles manufactured between March 2013 and June 2013.  According to Yamaha, the motorcycles were manufacture with slack in the wiring harness, which may allow the wiring harness to contact the exhaust manifold, thereby causing the wires to melt and short circuit.  And, if the wires short circuit, the fuses will blow and this may cause the engine to stall.   
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize that if a motorcycle's engine stalls while the vehicle is being ridden, this is extremely unsafe.  In fact, Yamaha itself even admits in the recall that when a motorcycle's engine stalls while the vehicle is being ridden, then there is an increased risk of a crash. 
Click here to see the recall notice.

Do you own a 2014 Yamaha Bolt? Has the motorcycle stalled on you while driving?  Has the vehicle been in the shop repeatedly for repairs but it is still not fixed and is still stalling?  If you have a 2014 Yamaha Bolt that stalls while driving and it hasn't yet been in the shop, take it back to the shop repeatedly, document your complaints carefully, and if they don't fix your 2014 Yamaha Bolt within 3 attempts, you've probably got a lemon.
Take the Ohio Lemon Law Test at, or in Kentucky you can take
the test at to see if you are entitled to a new car or your money back.  If so, call us on our Toll Free Hotline at 1-888-331-6471.  In Hawaii, go to for free Lemon Law help to get rid of your lemon motorcycle. And, if you are thinking about getting a new 2014 Yamaha Bolt, then you may want to think about it again.

Beth Wells
Helping Consumers Get Rid of Lemons, 9 Years Running

Monday, August 5, 2013

Military Service Members Targeted in Auto Purchases

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) recently ordered U.S. Bank and its partner company Dealer Financial Services (DFS) to repay a total of $6.5 million to more than 50,000 servicemembers and end deceptive marketing and lending practices aimed at active-duty military who financed auto purchases through the Military Installment Loans and Educational Services (MILES) Program.

The MILES Program was created by U.S. Bank and DFS to finance sub-prime loans to active-duty military, deducting the monthly auto loan payment directly from their military checks.  The program is essentially run by DFS, while U.S. Bank provides most of the financing for the loans.
The CFPB investigation revealed that U.S. Bank violated the Truth in Lending Act and the Dodd Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act's prohibitions on deceptive acts or practices by: 
(1) Failing to properly inform service members about fees associated with their auto loan.  Servicemembers were charged a monthly fee for automatic deduction of their payments from their paycheck, but this fee was not properly disclosed to them as part of the finance charge, the annual percentage rate, and the total payments for the loans.  This cost the average service member about $180 in fees over the life of the auto loan.
(2) Failing to properly disclose to service members the schedule of payments under their auto loan.  Servicemembers were advised that the payments would be deducted once monthly from their paycheck, but a partial payment was deducted from their paycheck twice a month.  To see the Order, click here.

The CFPB investigation also revealed that DFS misrepresented the cost and coverage of add-on products financed with the MILES loans.  In particular, the investigation revealed that DFS:
(1) Materially understated the cost of service contracts as being "just a few dollars" a month, when in reality the service contracts averaged about $42 a month extra.
(2) Materially understated the cost of GAP Insurance as being "just a couple cents" a day, when in reality the GAP Insurance averaged about 42 cents per day and over $100 a year.
(3) Misrepresented the coverage of service contracts as covering all expensive repairs, when the service contracts actually had many exclusions from coverage.  To see the Order, click here.

While it is sad and discouraging to see active-duty military being targeted in this manner, misrepresenting the cost and coverage of add-ons in auto sales is a nationwide problem impacting consumers, whether military or not.  So, if you are in the market for a car or truck, whether new or used, pay close attention to your sales contract and know exactly what you are paying for.  The dealer may have added some products to your purchase that you do not know about or understand.  Have a question?  Ask the dealer!  Many of these products are unnecessary and can cost you thousands of dollars over the life of your auto loan.
Or, already unknowingly purchase thousands of dollars in add-ons with your vehicle?  Contact a consumer law attorney and they may be able to help you out of your loan or help you get some of that money back that the car dealer stealthily added into the purchase.

Beth Wells
Helping Consumers Get Rid of Lemons, 9 Years Running

Friday, August 2, 2013

GM and Honda Announce Fuel Cell Vehicle Partnership

General Motors and Honda have announced a partnership aimed at developing a common system for fuel cell vehicles and getting those vehicles.  The two are the third in a series if similar pairings announced between Toyota and BMW in January, and Daimler, Ford, and Nissan that same month.

Why the push for fuel cell vehicles?  While the cost of refueling stations is steep - $1 million to $2 million - automakers are pushing to meet stiffer CO2 regulations scheduled to be in place later this decade.

According to GM Vice Chairman Steve Girskey, the two hope to combine their talents and expertise quicker than anyone else.  The engineers from each company will be working together side-by-side to create a common system for use by both automakers.  And, both automakers are already leaders in the auto fuel cell industry.  Honda has leased 85 fuel cell vehicles, called "FCX" for real world use.  Similarly, GM's fleet of 119 hydrogen-powered Chevy Equinox vehicles have been tested by consumers in Los Angeles, New York, and DC, racking up nearly 3 million miles of real world use.

How do they work?  Fuel cell vehicles create electricity from a chemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen in the car's fuel-cell stack.  The vehicle uses electric motors to propel it, batteries to store energy, and only water vapor is emitted from the tailpipe.  The cost of developing these vehicles is high, partly due to the platinum used in the fuel-cell stacks, and partly due to the complexity of onboard storage of hydrogen gas tanks.  This new partnership will allow the automakers to share the cost.

Can we expect to see fuel cell vehicles on the road and available to the general public soon?  Not likely.  GM and Honda have a goal of getting their vehicles into the showroom by 2020, while Daimler, Toyota, and Nissan have a goal of 2017.  Either way, it sounds like they all may have a ways to go.

Beth Wells
Helping Consumers Get Rid of Lemons, 9 Years Running