General Motors recently announced that it has recalled 8,519 model-year 2013 versions of the Chevrolet Malibu sedan due to suspension bolt problems. The affected vehicles may have one or more suspension bolts that weren’t adequately tightened. This could lead to a sudden change in handling, increasing the risk of a crash. GM in a letter to NHTSA said:
Initially, noise and a minor handling effect may be noticed. As the condition progresses, sudden changes in the vehicle handling could occur and the driver may not be able to control the vehicle.
According to GM, no accidents or injuries have resulted from the inadequately tightened suspension bolts. The recall also affects another 1,060 of the cars in Canada, Mexico and overseas. This particular recall seems very limited, but problems with suspension bolts or connections in vehicles are more common than one might think.
Greg Allen, the most experienced products liability lawyer in our firm, settled a case recently with a car manufacturer that involved these issues. In that case a ball joint broke, causing a driver to lose control of his car. A family was traveling through Alabama on Interstate 20 while returning to Florida after visiting relatives. As they were driving along the highway, there was a loud pop and the car pulled hard to the left. Our client was trying to correct the path of the vehicle when it went off the road and hit a concrete ditch.
When the car struck the ditch, our client’s seat bottomed out and he suffered a burst fracture in his lower spine. The car was traveling at highway speed when they heard the sound which our clients thought was a tire explosion. But, in actuality, the left front ball joint of the car broke. During his investigation, Greg learned that this car had been subject to a recall for having loose ball joints. He also discovered that there had been a large number of complaints of these ball joints breaking, even after the recall.
Consumers should be aware of these problems and look for the signs of problems with bolts or joints in their cars. Strange noises or problems with handling raise red flags for drivers. When this happens, have your car checked out. Do not ignore any recalls received on your vehicle, even if they appear only minor. The consequences could be deadly. If you need additional information on any of the above, contact Greg Allen or Dana Taunton at 800-898-2034, or by email at Greg.Allen@beasleyallen.com or Dana.Taunton@beasleyallen.com.
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