A specialty car maker has quietly recalled hundreds of aging limousines similar to the one that burst into flames on the San Mateo Bridge in 2013 killing five Bay Area nurses.
According to a Bay Area News Group report, Accubuilt, an Ohio-based company that converts standard Lincoln Town Cars into stretch limos, issued the recall in June warning vehicle owners that the same rear suspension failure that caused the fatal fire would occur in other limousines if they weren’t immediately repaired. This is according to federal government records recently found by the Associated Press.
Not a Publicized Recall
The national recall covered 970 cars that are all more than a decade old. It is not clear how many vehicles were found to be defective. The recall was not made public more than six months ago when it was issued.
Accubuilt’s stated to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) at the time that it did not know who owned all of these cars and needed the help of former owners to track down the cars that had been sold.
Records about the recall on NHTSA’s website have not been updated since June. A letter from Accubuilt sent to owners said a fix to the problem would be made by September.
But, there is no public documentation saying the vehicles affected by the recall have actually been repaired. The fatal fire occurred on May 4, 2013 when a blaze broke out in a limo due to a failed rear suspension system.
Limo Stop, a San Jose-based company, owned that limo. It was carrying nine female passengers to a wedding party. Five women, including a newlywed woman, died of smoke inhalation injuries.
Danger to Consumers
As California auto defect attorneys who represent victims of defective vehicles and vehicle parts, we find this news deeply disturbing. It may be that some of the cars that have been recalled may not be used commercially since the industry standard is to take vehicles out of service in five to seven years. But, who controls and regulates the mom- and-pop and other small operators who may choose to keep these aging vehicles on the road longer?
In addition to issuing a recall, manufacturers also have a responsibility to publicize the recall and make sure consumers are made aware of the dangerous products in question. Manufacturers should also be held accountable for ensuring that the defect or problem that spurred the recall is fixed.