Car recalls – Volvo found guilty of manslaughter, now recalls 82,000 S40 and V50 models

Car recalls are difficult to handle. They’re a PR nightmare, but it’s even more of a nightmare when you don’t recall and someone dies. French drive Catherine Kohtz lost control of her Volvo 850 in an accident in 1999, killing two children. She claimed a loss of braking ability. The French courts handed Volvo a guilty verdict: manslaughter. 200,000 Euros isn’t that much for a company the size of Volvo, but more significantly Kohtz was fined 300 Euros and given a six-month suspended jail term due to her accident initially being attributed to reckless driving. But it turns out that Volvo did now about the issue and rather than recall 180,000 850s it quietly asked its dealers to repair a rubber pipe that was prone to rupturing, causing the loss of braking ability. Obviously stung by this, Volvo has announced a recall of 82,000 S40 and V50 cars, the majority of which are in the USA, Sweden and Germany. It only affects 2004-2006 5-cylinder petrol models. The problem is that in corrosion-prone countries (e.g. where the roads are gritted when snowy), exposed fuel pump electronics can degrade leading to engine stalling. Check with Volvo – some markets are only receiving extended guarantees as opposed to replacement parts. It outlines how expensive these failures can be – let’s say each repair costs $100. $100 x 82,000 is a lot of lost profit.

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