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If you’re hanging around Canberra with nothing to do this morning, come down and join us at the Questacon carpark for the start of the Shitbox Rally at 9.30am.

The sight of 200 cars worth less than a total of $200,000 heading out to the Birdsville Expressway for a 3700km jaunt to Townsville will be a sensational, exciting and moving experience, so moving it will probably put you off driving forever.

Co-driver Paul Marshall and I will be handing out free copies of The Weekend Australian from a few weeks ago, signed photos of our editors and executives, and some old lollies for the kiddies. Make sure you catch up with us. You can’t miss The Weekend Australian ute. In case you do, we have included a photo above.


Anyway, talking of shitboxes, US carmakers recalled a record 60 million cars last year. But don’t worry, Mark Rosekind, boss of the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, says this year could see that record broken. The car industry is going flat out to try to set a new benchmark this year.

Suzuki will recall two million cars, including the Chevrolet Cruzes it builds for GM. Evidently when you turn the car on the faulty ignition unit smokes. Ford is recalling 390,000 Fiestas, Fusions and Lincolns because the doors could fly open while you are driving. My kids used to do this to me going up the Pacific Highway but no one recalled them. As one blogger suggested, tape the doors shut and get in and out through the windows. The Fords were built in Mexico.

BMW will recall 90,000 Mini Coopers because the air bags may not work. BMW and Nissan are recalling 165,000 cars because a faulty fuel pump could cause the car to stop in the middle of the freeway or just not start. Volkswagen is recalling 20,676 Routan minivans with problem ignition switches. Fiat Chrysler is recalling 46,000 cars including Jeeps and Wranglers because when you turn on the engine the cars could take off by themselves.

Part of reason for the record recalls is the ongoing GM ignition switch problem that is now believed to have killed 97 people. The outcome of this will be that carmakers will make only keyless cars. In the meantime no matter what brand you drive, don’t load your car keys up with lots of other keys, baubles, torches and other miscellaneous doodads.

The other ongoing issue is air bags made by Takata, which holds about 20 per cent of the market. Ten carmakers have recalled 17 million cars made from 2002 to 2008. AsConsumer Reports magazine says, “The air bags could deploy explosively, injuring or even killing car occupants.” Or, as Nissan says, “The propellant could potentially deteriorate over time due to environmental factors, which could lead to over-aggressive combustion in the event of an air bag deployment. This could create excessive internal pressure within the inflator and could cause the inflator housing to rupture.”

And as Consumer Reports so neatly puts it, “‘If the air- bag housing ruptures in a crash, metal shards from the air bag can be sprayed throughout the passenger cabin — a potentially disastrous outcome from a supposedly life-saving device.” The faulty Takata air bags were made in Mexico. Doesn’t that give you confidence when our carmakers move manufacturing offshore?


Read more at the Australian, including Holden’s response to last week’s article…



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