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Tech Tips February 2012

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Kia Recalls 145,000 Vehicles for Front Air Bag Issue

Kia Motors is recalling over 145,000 vehicles to fix a potential problem with the front air bags. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s website, Kia is recalling the 2006-2008 model year Kia Optima and the 2007-2008 Kia Rondo, potentially totaling up to 145,755 vehicles.

NHTSA’s report says the driver’s side air bag may become damaged through usage over time and if the clock spring contact assembly becomes damaged, the driver’s air bag electrical circuit will experience a high resistance condition potentially causing the driver’s air bag to not deploy.

Kia will notify owners beginning in March and dealers will replace the vehicle’s air bag clock spring contact assembly as necessary, free of charge.

More Plead Guilty to Auto Parts Price Fixing

The Department of Justice announced that two Japanese auto parts suppliers, Yazaki Corporation and DENSO Corporation, have agreed to plead guilty and to pay a total of $548 million in criminal fines for their involvement in multiple price-fixing and bid-rigging conspiracies in the sale of parts to automobile manufacturers in the United States. Four executives, all Japanese nationals, have also agreed to plead guilty and to serve prison time in the United States with sentences ranging from 15 months to two years.

According to court documents, the Yazaki co-conspirators fixed the prices of automotive wire harnesses, instrument panel clusters, and fuel tank sending units. DENSO engaged in conspiracies to fix prices of electronic control units (ECUs) and heater control panels (HCPs). All of the conspiracies involved products sold to customers in the United States and elsewhere.

The department said that the individuals participated in the conspiracies at various times from at least as early as January 2000, until at least February 2010. The executives involved have agreed to pay a $20,000 criminal fine and will assist the department in its ongoing investigation into the automotive parts industry.

In November 2011, Furukawa Electric Co. Ltd. pleaded guilty and was sentenced to pay a $200 million fine for its role in the wire harnesses price-fixing and bid-rigging conspiracy.

The department said the federal antitrust investigation into anticompetitive conduct in the automotive parts industry is ongoing