Auto Safety:

Effectiveness of Ford Transmission Settlement Still at Issue

RCED-86-52: Published: Jun 10, 1986. Publicly Released: Jun 10, 1986.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO examined the agreement between Ford Motor Company and the Department of Transportation that closed the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) investigation of an alleged transmission defect in certain 1970-79 model year automobiles.

As a result of increased injuries and fatalities due to allegedly faulty automobile transmissions, the manufacturer and NHTSA entered into an agreement in 1980 to inform owners of the proper parking procedures to use before exiting their vehicles. GAO found that the: (1) manufacturer will monitor the case by collecting incident and fatality data and investigating newly reported fatalities, and will inform consumers about the problem; (2) NHTSA incident and fatality data analyses are incomplete; and (3) manufacturer's vehicles are not the only ones with faulty transmissions.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: This recommendation referred to options identified in the report, but it did not urge any specific option. NHTSA has no plans to implement the action options GAO identified.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation should direct the Administrator, NHTSA, to take further action. GAO identified some options the Secretary may wish to consider; others might also be identified.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Each such case is unique and would require a tailored program to evaluate. NHTSA has no plans to implement this recommendation.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation should direct the Administrator, NHTSA, to establish a methodology to both monitor and assess the effectiveness of any negotiated settlement that does not involve a recall.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

 

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