Nobody likes when things don’t work the way they’re supposed to, especially when it’s the 2-ton hunk of car parts sitting in your driveway. That’s why, when a problem becomes a complaint becomes an investigation becomes a recall, automakers try their hardest to get your attention so you can get it fixed. It’s not just junk mail — it’s a letter that could potentially save your life.
Related: Driving Smart Video: The 5 Biggest Recalls of 2017
Thing is, recalls happen all the time. Some are relatively minor; some are, well, the Takata airbag inflator crisis. Each one is important no matter the month, but it can be hard to keep up with knowing if your vehicle is involved.
Not feeling up to speed? We got you. Below are some of the most significant recalls we covered from August. For more coverage, check out our Recalls page, and for a comprehensive list of recalls that include all things road-going, check out the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s page here.
August was generally a quiet month for recalls — we only reported 11 new ones for the month, and only six had vehicle counts that exceeded four figures. Unfortunately, two of the biggest five were from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, and this one alone was enough to encompass every other recall we covered for the entire month nearly twice over. Affecting Dodge Grand Caravans and Journeys, as well as Jeep Compasses and Cherokees, the problem was insufficient coating on the rear brake caliper pistons that could lead to gas pockets and less-effective rear brakes. A simple brake bleeding from the dealer should do the trick.
Another of Detroit’s Big Three did not escape August unscathed as Ford recalled about 49,000 Ford Focus Electric, Fusion Energi and C-Max Energi electric cars. Each came equipped with 120-volt “convenience” charge cords that inconveniently catch fire when used with an AC outlet that is not on a dedicated circuit or is damaged, worn or corroded. In addition to checking how your home’s electrical outlets work (or replacing them, because why would you risk it with outlets that are damaged, worn or corroded?), you should also bring your Ford in for new charge cords that include a thermistor, a component that can identify overheating at the plug or outlet. Do not be the firestarter of your block.
Bringing the tally to nearly 167,000 affected FCA vehicles for the month was this issue concerning the powertrain control module. The module might be equipped with a chip in the circuit board that may fail, causing stalls or no-starts — which nobody needs in their driveway, let alone at a busy intersection. Though it affects some 16 different models across the FCA lineup, the fix is relatively simple: Dealers will replace the powertrain control module for free. Yes, please.
As in July, Mercedes-Benz found its way onto our list, this time with a gaggle of about 9,000 GLE and GLS-Class SUVs. Interestingly, the same issue that befell these affected Mercedes-Benzes and Mercedes-AMGs is nearly identical to the problem FCA experienced with its largest recall: The rear brake caliper pistons weren’t correctly coated, which again causes gas to be released temporarily into the rear brake hydraulic circuit, reducing braking abilities. And as with FCA, Mercedes dealers will bleed the rear brakes for free.
Brakes were especially susceptible to recall in August as Volkswagen also had issues, this time for brake caliper bracket mounting bolts in an estimated 8,400 vehicles. The work for dealers, however, sounds a lot more complicated here — everything from inspecting the brake-caliper bracket bolt tightness, replacing and re-torqueing the bolts to checking calipers, fasteners and bleeder valve components to inspecting the parking brake cable for Passats specifically. No one needs to be told how important properly functioning brakes are, so we shouldn’t have to tell you to get this repair done sooner than later, either.
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