The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has opened an investigation into rear-gate lift struts made by Stabilus. The struts, commonly found in the rear doors in minivans, have been linked to several recalls and a number of injuries due to lift strut failures.
Stabilus named as gas lift strut maker behind recalls
Normally, automakers don’t name parts suppliers in recalls related to a defective part. Part of it has to do with business practices and the time-honored practice among the business community to avoid admitting a screw up. Part of that is not admitting liability and part of it is down to a certain material that comes from a part of a bull that’s below the tail.
At any rate, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is investigating a parts manufacturer that has been confirmed as the supplier in a number of recalls revolving around a defective part, according to AutoGuide. The NHTSA is looking at Stabilus, the maker of gas lift struts that are commonly found on rear hatch doors in hatchbacks, SUVs, minivans, pickup truck bed gates and so forth.
The struts were found to be the cause of recalls by several manufacturers.
Honda, Toyota and Ford recalls all caused by struts
Recalls for minivans from at least three manufacturers have been traced to Stabilus gas lift struts malfunctioning. Defective struts in a 2006 recall for the Ford Freestar and Mercury Monterey minivans for the 2005 and 2006 model years, a 2008 Toyota Sienna recall, for the 2004 through 2006 model years and a recall this year for the 2008 through 2009 Honda Odyssey minivan, all due to failing lift struts.
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In all three cases, the struts are only found in models with power-assisted lift gates, where the rear hatch is opened and the door lifts fully open, according to posts about the Honda Odyssey recall on InsideLine, the Toyota Sienna recall on Consumer Affairs, and the Ford Freestar on Automobile magazine’s website.
The issue is that the defective Stabilus struts can fail much earlier than they should, meaning doors can fall while open, which poses a risk of injury.
Careful while shopping
Anyone shopping for a used late model minivan shouldn’t necessarily avoid those models if visiting a used car dealership in Spokane, Wa., San Diego, Calif., Tuscaloosa, Ala., or wherever; many of the afflicted vehicles were fixed in recalls. Some weren’t, though.
Vehicles that weren’t fixed pose a danger of injury. According to Bloomberg, there were 98 injuries associated with failing struts in the Toyota Sienna as of 2010. At least two injuries were associated with failing lift gate struts in the Odyssey when the recall was announced, according to AutoWeek.
The NHTSA is looking into whether Stabilus struts are used in any other vehicles and if any recalls are appropriate to initiate, according to AutoGuide.