California DMV may have suffered credit card breach


SACRAMENTO – Armando Botello, Public Information Officer of the California Department of Motor Vehicles, has issued the following statement:

“The Department of Motor Vehicles has been alerted by law enforcement authorities to a potential security issue within its credit card processing services.

There is no evidence at this time of a direct breach of the DMV’s computer system. However, out of an abundance of caution and in the interest of protecting the sensitive information of California drivers, the DMV has opened an investigation into any potential security breach in conjunction with state and federal law enforcement.

In its investigation, the department is performing a forensic review of its systems and seeking information regarding any potential breach from both the external vendor that processes the DMV’s credit card transactions and the credit card companies themselves.

Protecting the identity and security of our customers is our highest priority and we fully understand the potential impact any breach of security can have. The department has implemented heightened monitoring of all DMV website traffic and credit card transactions. We will immediately notify any affected DMV customers as quickly as possible if we find any issue. DMV customers are also encouraged to closely monitor their credit card statements and transactions for any fraudulent or unusual activity and report it to their credit card company immediately.

DMV customers can continue to pay with cash, check, or money order in person at their local DMV office. Californians with questions about fraud or identity theft can access important information on through this DMV Identity Fraud Factsheet.

We will continue to provide consumer updates on our website as we gather more factual information.”

Doing business with the DMV has never been easier. The DMV offers an array of services to customers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week through its Website including online advance appointments for written and drive tests; vehicle registration and driver license renewals, selection of personalized license plates, changes of address and payment of fees via secure debit transactions. Customers can also effect transactions by calling DMV customer service at (800) 777–0133.DMV is a department under the California State Transportation Agency (CalSTA).

Lawsuits contend GM hasn’t recalled all defective Cobalts


General Motors is facing additional lawsuits in California and Alabama relating to the faulty ignition switches that have forced it to recall some 1.6 million Chevrolet, Pontiac and Saturn vehicles. These suits are a bit different than GM’s other legal issues, though.

In the California case, a suit was filed with a federal court in San Francisco alleging that the ignition switch problem is present on newer Chevrolet Cobalts, up through the 2010 model year, with claims that the ignition could be switched off by a driver’s knee. Currently, GM’s recall only covers 2005 to 2007 model year Cobalts.

The Alabama case, meanwhile, alleges that GM sent technical service bulletins to dealers in the state warning that keys may “stick” or “bind” in the ignition in Cobalts and other vehicles not covered under the recall.

“We won’t comment on specific allegations,” GM spokesman Jim Kane told Autoblog, “but we’re confident that we’ve recalled all of the vehicles that could have faulty ignition switches.”

Vice President of GM, Mark Reuss, echoed that sentiment in speaking at a roundtable last week, according to Automotive News. “Where the switch was used in production, we have done a very accurate and complete read across,” Reuss said.

Senate to question GM CEO Barra one day after House


It looks like General Motors CEO Mary Barra will be staying in Washington D.C for an additional day in April. The Senate has scheduled its hearing into the automaker’s ignition switch recall for April 2, according to The Detroit News. That will put it a day after Barra’s testimony in front of the House Energy and Commerce Committee on April 1. National Highway Transportation Safety Administration Acting Administrator David Friedman will also testify at both inquiries.

The Senate hearing will be led by the Subcommittee on Consumer Protection on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Insurance, which oversees NHTSA. “We need to find out who dropped ball and put millions of Americans at risk. We also need to make sure that General Motors and federal regulators are doing everything they can to prevent more tragedies like this now and in the future,” said Claire McCaskill (D-MO), the group’s chair, in a March 12 statement on her website.

In addition to the Congressional examination, GM is also facing investigations into the recall by the Justice Department, NHTSA and its own internal investigation. The automaker had until March 25 to turn over documents for the House hearing, and it has until April 3 to submit responses to a detailed questionnaire to NHTSA.

What if crash test dummies are smarter and more feeling than we thought?

Crush screen cap

We take it for granted that crash test dummies – save the ones we saw in the short-lived 1990s cartoon series or the Canadian one-hit wonder – are inanimate, unfeeling and altogether without conscience. But what if they suddenly came to life?

That’s the premise of a short film called Crush. The two-minute clip is the work of one Malek Rizkallah, who animated it as his final project for the 3D Animation and Visual Effects program at the Vancouver Film School. It revolves around a pair of inanimate mannequins placed inside a Volkswagen Scirocco for a crash test, only to come to life seconds before impact.

It’s that impact which you’ll need to feel for yourself, so click below to watch the video.

Senator wants DoJ to create GM victims’ fund

Connecticut Senate

US Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat from Connecticut, is echoing the call of safety advocates in requesting that the Justice Department create a compensation fund for those killed or injured behind the wheel of General Motors vehicles with faulty ignition switches.

Blumenthal, pictured above, wrote to US Attorney General Eric Holder and called for the DoJ to “immediately intervene on behalf of those injured and killed and all who suffered damages as a result of faulty ignition switches,” according to a new report from The Detroit News.

At least 12 deaths are attributed to the problem and there have been 31 accidents blamed on defective ignition switches that were inadvertently turned from the “run” position to the “accessory” or “off” position, a process that disables the steering, anti-lock brakes and airbags.

Blumenthal’s comments follow those of Clarence Ditlow and Joan Claybrook, two safety advocates that have already called on GM to create a $1-billion trust fund to compensate crash victims. GM has so far claimed it’s not liable for company actions that transpired prior to its bankruptcy, a defense brought about by the terms of its bailout agreement.

“There are certain cases where liabilities prior to bankruptcy – I don’t know the right word – they’re with the previous company,” GM CEO Mary Barra said. This “Old GM” position has been one of the most contentious of this entire ordeal. Blumenthal even called it out in his letter to Holder, requesting that the DoJ “oppose any effort by GM to deny responsibility for consumer damages.”

This isn’t Blumenthal’s first push against “New GM” immunity – The Detroit News reports that in 2009, the then-attorney general of Connecticut led seven other attorneys general against a measure that would protect the new company from the actions of its bankrupt forbearer.

GM remains in hot water with federal authorities, with the DoJ conducting a criminal investigation into the handling of the recall. The big question seems to be whether GM committed bankruptcy fraud by failing to disclose the faulty ignition switches. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is also looking into the ignitions, which GM has known about since 2001, while Barra is set to testify before a House of Representatives subcommittee next week.

Porsche 911 GT3 RS facing delay over GT3 fire problems?

2014 Porsche 911 GT3

Porsche has never been afraid to introduce variants of its cars. However, its even higher spec, next-generation 911 GT3 RS may be delayed from its planned launch this summer while the engines in the standard GT3s (pictured above) are replaced.

A delay isn’t certain, but executives want to make sure the high-strung mill is no longer a problem before they press forward with another model using it. Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport asked Porsche CEO Matthias Müller about pushing back the launch, and he responded that it was too early to say. The company’s current focus is making sure the engines get fixed and working on internal measures to prevent this kind of flaw in the future.

When fires claimed two 911 GT3s in Europe, Porsche initially stopped the model’s sales and asked owners to stop driving them. It finally diagnosed the blazes as being caused by a loose screw on a connecting rod, which then resulted in crankcase damage and an oil leak. The company is replacing the engines on all 785 affected cars. A source told Autoblog that under 200 customers were actually affected, and the other cars were either at port or dealer lots. Hopefully, the recall doesn’t postpone the road-going GT3 RS too far because we want to see what Porsche has up its sleeve.

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2015 GMC Yukon erupts into flames during Anaheim test drive [w/video]

GMC Yukon fire

A 2015 GMC Yukon burst into flames while on a test drive in Anaheim, CA on Sunday after smoke filled the cabin. Residents of the neighborhood where the driver abandoned the redesigned Yukon reported hearing a series of small explosions (likely the tires, based on the video), according to a report from KTLA and The Los Angeles Times.

No one was injured in the incident, which The Times reports occurred after a possible oil or fluid leak. As you can see in the image above, the Yukon was engulfed in flames, although the Anaheim Fire Department was able to put out the blaze in about 15 minutes.

“We’re very lucky that no one got hurt, and it was in an area that… was safe,” Lt. Tim Schmidt of the Anaheim Police Department told KTLA reporters. “If there was any place that was going to be safe, it would be this area. It’s very open. It worked out for us.”

“Everyone kept thinking: Is it going to explode one more time? Because it looked like the gas tank was still there, intact,” Sergio Luna, one of the witnesses, told KTLA. “So that was the big fear: If it does go off, what’s going to happen?”

The news of a new model catching fire comes on the heels of a massive and controversial recall for General Motors, which has faced criticism for failing to recall over one million vehicles due to faulty ignition switches.

GM is aware of the fire and is set to dispatch a field team to analyze the destroyed SUV “very soon,” according to GM’s Alan Adler. Adler add that it’s too soon to know much of anything – the fire, after all, did only happen yesterday – but it’s hoped that the field team being dispatched will have answers as soon as possible. We’ll be sure to stay with this story and update you as more information becomes available. Scroll down for the full news report from KTLA.

Recalled Saturn Ion facing separate federal safety probe

Date Investigation Opened: SEP 29, 2011
Date Investigation Closed: Open

NHTSA Action Number: EA11014

Component(s): STEERING

All Products Associated with this Investigation Vehicle Make Model Model Year(s)
SATURN ION 2004-2007
Manufacturer: General Motors LLC

ODI has received 846 complaints and GM identified 3,489 reports alleging sudden loss of power steering assist in model year (MY) 2004 through 2007 Saturn Ion vehicles manufactured and sold by General Motors Corporation (GM). Sixteen of these complaints alleged that the EPS warning lamp had illuminated before or during the loss of steering assist and the increased steering effort contributed to a crash. Two of the GM crash claims indicated that the driver was injured in the crash.

In a previous Preliminary Evaluation PE10-005, ODI investigated the sudden loss of power steering assist in MY 2005 through 2010 Chevrolet Cobalt vehicles. In May 2011, in response to an ODI information request letter for RQ10-004, GM provided ODI with complaint, warranty and EPS system information related to EPS loss of assist for the Saturn ION and peer vehicles Pontiac G6 and Chevrolet Malibu. In that response, GM indicated that the EPS system used in the subject vehicles was the same as that used in the MY2005 to 2010 Chevrolet Cobalt and Pontiac G5. In March 2010, GM recalled approximately 1.05 million Chevrolet Cobalt and Pontiac G5 vehicles (NHTSA recall No. 10V-073) to correct a defect with the EPS assist motor. The defect identified was described as a buildup of brush debris mixed with oily material on the EPS electric motor armature which causes the motor to stop functioning; the same problem identified in the current subject vehicles. ODI has duplicated this failure in both a Chevrolet Cobalt and Saturn ION previously tested at the Vehicle Research and Test Center (VRTC).

In the defect notification letter for the previously recalled Cobalt and G5 vehicles, GM stated that the vehicles may experience a sudden loss of assist that could occur at any time while driving and that if power steering was lost the vehicle would revert to manual steering mode and would require increased steering effort from the driver. ODI believes that, depending on driving circumstances this increase in steering effort could result in some loss of control and a crash.

An engineering analysis has been opened to further assess the frequency, scope and safety consequences of a sudden loss of steering assist in the subject vehicles.

Barra will testify to US House on April 1 about recall

GM CEO Mary Barra and Lead Federal Vehicle Safety Official Expected to Testify April 1

March 20, 2014
WASHINGTON, DC – Bipartisan House Energy and Commerce Committee leaders today announced that General Motors Company CEO Mary Barra will testify at an Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee hearing on Tuesday, April 1, 2014, at 11:00 a.m. The committee has also invited National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Acting Administrator David Friedman to testify on the same day.

“We look forward to hearing from both Mary Barra and Administrator Friedman. Their testimony is critical to understanding what the company and NHTSA knew about the safety problems, when they knew it, and what was done about it,” said full committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Tim Murphy (R-PA). “The problems originated long before Barra and Friedman took the helms of their respective organizations, but their actions and input now, as our investigation proceeds, will be essential to getting answers about what went wrong. We want to know if this tragedy could have been prevented and what can be done to ensure the loss of life due to safety failures like this don’t happen again.”

“I look forward to this hearing so we can find out from GM and NHTSA how this happened and why these dangerous vehicles were not fixed in a timely fashion,” said full committee Ranking Member Henry A. Waxman (D-CA) and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Ranking Member Diana DeGette (D-CO).

Additional hearing details, the Majority Memorandum, a witness list, and witness testimony will be available here as they are posted.

BACKGROUND: The committee has opened a bipartisan investigation into the General Motors Company’s (GM) and NHTSA’s response to consumer complaints related to stalling, airbag non-deployment, and ignition switch problems. GM announced a recall in February covering over 1.6 million vehicles worldwide to correct the problems, but reports indicate drivers first complained of the safety defects over 10 years ago. The company has stated that the defects may have been linked to 31 frontal crashes and a dozen fatalities. Committee staff has now been briefed by both NHTSA and GM on the recalls, and currently awaits production of the documents and information requested last week.