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Dangerous defects mean that important safety device might not work when you need it most

An increasing number of defective airbags has lead to a record number of recalls so far in 2013, meaning those important safety devices hidden in your dashboard may not work when you need them most.

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It's the maximum fine that safety regulators are allowed to levy against an automaker.

Ford has paid the top penalty of $17.35 million to settle government allegations that the company was slow to recall nearly a half-million SUVs last year.

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2010 Kia Soul and 2011 Kia Sorento – Click on either image for high-res gallery

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Back in May, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration started investigating cases of rear axles breaking in late model Ford Windstar minivans after receiving hundreds of complaints from owners. Over three months later, an official recall has just been announced that covers 575,000 1998-2003 Windstars sold in "Salt Belt" states – places where road salt is used to melt away snow and ice during the winter months. Road salt can accelerate corrosion on the rear axle, which can cause t

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2010 Subaru Outback – Click above for high-res image gallery

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Chrysler has found a defect with certain 2010 Dodge Nitro, Dodge Ram 1500, Jeep Liberty and Jeep Wrangler models that could hinder braking. An improper flare on a brake tube that connects the master cylinder to the hydraulic control unit is being blamed for the problem. The HCU is part of the anti-lock braking system, and the faulty flare may leak and lead to a loss of brake fluid, which could lead to reduced braking performance and heighten the risk of a crash.

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2010 Lexus HS250h – Click above for high-res image gallery

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2010 Cadillac SRX 2.8T – Click above for high-res image gallery

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Akio Toyoda, still working the shovel to extricate Toyota from the hole it's dug, invited U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood for a factory visit. When he returned, LaHood said that the Toyota CEO didn't realize how much damage the company's reputation was taking until Toyoda actually came to America and saw for himself.

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Ford has announced a recall of some 33,000 vehicles due to faulty front seat manual reclining mechanisms. The recall affects certain 2010 Ford Fusion, Explorer and Explorer SportTrac models, as well as 2010 Mercury Mountaineer and Milan vehicles. Both the Blue Oval and NHTSA are concerned that during an accident the mechanisms could fail and cause the back of the seat to move toward the rear of the vehicle, resulting in a possible injury.

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Mitsubishi is recalling both the 2004 Endeavor SUV and 2010 Galant sedan over possible corrosion issues that could cause flammable fluids to leak. The safety recall affects approximately 56,113 Endeavors and 2,307 Galants across the United States.

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"NHTSA officials told investigators that the agency doesn't employ any electrical engineers or software engineers."

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2011 Hyundai Sonata SE – Click above for high-res image gallery

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The Congressional hearings entitled "Response by Toyota and NHTSA to Incidents of Sudden Unintended Acceleration" may have started today, but the actual response by Toyoda – that's Akio Toyoda with a "D," head of the Japanese automaker – will come tomorrow.

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Toyota Corolla is one auto being investigated by NHTSA over steering complaints

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Just because Toyota may be garnering the most attention for its current recall crisis, it isn't the only automaker having issues. Chrysler has just released its own recall which affects more than 312,000 2005-2006 Town and Country, Caravan, and Grand Caravan models.

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Another day, another major story on Toyota's recent recall woes. As you may have already heard, the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration – and particularly U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood – is less than pleased with the way Toyota has handled its various vehicle callbacks.

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2008 Chevrolet Cobalt SS Turbo - Click above for high-res image gallery

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When it rains, it pours. With recalls on the books for Toyota floor mats and corrosion problems, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is now investigating reports that Toyota's Corolla and Matrix vehicles may have engines susceptible to stalling. Owners of the 2006 model year Corolla and Matrix vehicles with the questioned 1ZZ-FE engines have described stalling in intersections and on highways, putting drivers at a safety risk while they attempt to restart the engine. There

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