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Do auto companies cover up defects and put people at risk?

It's one thing to make a defective product, one that inherently puts people at risk due to a poor design or poor manufacturing. It's quite another to then try to cover up these defects so that sales aren't impacted -- and to avoid an expensive re-design -- which increases the risk to consumers.

Auto companies have been accused of doing this for a long time. Back in the late 1990s and the early 2000s, Ford and Firestone were accused of not doing nearly enough when they knew that the Ford Explorer had a high rollover risk. They then altered the tires to try to fix it, resulting in weak, unsafe tires being used on the Explorer. That case gained a lot of media traction because of the high number of fatalities in resulting wrecks.

Ford is not the only auto company to run into this issue. More recently, Toyota actually admitted to trying cover up acceleration issues with their vehicles. The cars would accelerate uncontrollably and crash. As a result of the incidents and the cover-up, Toyota had to pay $1.3 billion.

General Motors also ran into cover-up accusations recently, after ignition switches on GM cars would cause them to stall in traffic. Some reports indicated over 100 people were killed in these crashes. One of the biggest issues was that the stalled car wouldn't deploy its airbags in the subsequent wreck.

As you can see, fraud and cover-ups have been part of the auto industry for decades. Since cars are such a large investment and such a massive safety risk, it's important for consumers to know their rights to compensation when wronged by these corporations.

Source: Street Directory, "Ford/Firestone Cover-up Deadly Product Defects," accessed Feb. 16, 2017

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