Common SUV Defects
Today, sports Utility Vehicles (SUVS) continue to be a popular choice among drivers for a variety of reasons. First, SUVS are larger and have more cabin room than sedans and other passenger vehicles. This allows SUVs to accommodate more passengers and carry more cargo. Additionally, the higher height of these vehicles improves driver visibility. Despite being more convenient, however, SUVs are prone to numerous defects.
At Timothy Abeel & Associates, our experienced SUV defects attorneys routinely represent automobile consumers in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. If you own or lease an SUV that does not adhere to current safety standards, has been subject to recalls, or has been taken in for numerous repairs, you may be entitled to significant compensation.
SUVs are higher, more narrow and top heavy than passenger cars, and also have a higher center of gravity, which makes them more susceptible to rollovers. Moreover, traveling with more passengers and cargo increases the risk of a rollover due to the additional weight. Generally, there are two types of single-vehicle rollovers associated with SUVs:
- Tripped Rollover – When the vehicle swerves, or trips, into obstacles such as curbs, potholes or soft roadside shoulders
- Un-tripped Rollover – Caused by a number of factors including speed, steering technique and ground friction as well as poor vehicle design.
While automakers often attribute SUV rollers to driver mistakes or road conditions, design defects and flawed tires contribute to numerous accidents. If tires are underinflated or the treads are worn, an SUV may not be able to properly grip the road with all four wheels. Sideways forces can then become excessive, leading to a rollover accident. Defective tires are also susceptible to blowouts, which can cause the driver to lose control of the vehicle.
An SUV rollover can lead to roof crush which involves the roof compressing into the interior cabin. Although current federal standards require vehicles to withstand 1.5 times the weight of a vehicle at the sides of the roof, most SUVs are not equipped with roll bars which provide additional protection. This results in a greater risk of roof crush and injury to occupants, particularly neck, head and brain injuries.
Preventing SUV Rollovers
Today, the NHTSA requires all motor vehicles to be equipped with electronic stability control (ESC). This technology prevents a vehicle from sliding sideways in a turn, which can lead to a rollover. ESC can be particularly helpful in slippery conditions, or accident avoidance situations in which an SUV could fishtail or spin out of control. If the ESC fails to operate, however, a rollover accident may still occur.
Although design defects in SUVs may lead to rollovers, drivers can also take precautions to reduce the risk of accidents and injuries. Obviously, drivers should never speed since this increases the risk of a rollover accident. Additionally, it is important to keep tires properly inflated and make sure the treads are not worn. Moreover, drivers should be careful on rural roads that have tighter curves, don’t have shoulders, and are more likely to have uneven surfaces. Also, drivers and passengers should always have seat belts fastened. Finally, manufacturers are required to warn consumers that SUVs maneuver differently than other passenger vehicles.
Other SUV Defects
While rollover accidents and roof crush are primary concerns for SUV consumers, these vehicles are also prone to all types defects, some of which have led to recalls.
- In April 2017, Kia Motors recalled 8,000 2011-2013 Model Year Kia Sportage and 166,000 2012-2014 Sorento SUVs with the turbocharged 2.0 liter engine. An engine defect related to premature bearing wear could lead to a vehicle stall, increasing the risk of a crash.
- In March 2017, Nissan announced the recall of 56,766 2013-2104 Model Year Murano SUVs. Defective power steering hose clamps could cause the hose to detach and leak power steering fluid, affecting the maneuverability of the vehicles. Nissan instructed dealers to replace the power steering hose kit.
- In January 2017, Audi announced the recall of certain 2013-2017 Model Year Q5 SUVs with 2.0 liter turbocharged engines. The automaker said that the electric coolant pump could get clogged with debris. Audi also recalled certain 2011-2017 Q5 SUVs because leaks in the sunroof drainage system damaged the foam surrounding the side airbag inflators. This could cause the inflator to rupture, expelling metal fragments into the vehicle.
SUV Defects Attorney
With gas prices still relatively low, and improved fuel efficiency in newer model SUVs, these vehicles will likely remain popular. Nonetheless, sports utility vehicles will also continue to be prone to defects and the subject of recalls. At Timothy Abeel & Associates, P.C., we believe SUV manufacturers must be held accountable for defects when they occur. We are well versed in state and federal consumer protection laws and have a proven track record of helping our clients obtain meaningful compensation. Call our office today for a free consultation or complete the contact form on our website.