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MARKETPLACE:  Auto | Jobs | People Search | Personals | Travel | Yellow Pages  January 11, 2005
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The Investigators
We uncover a potential problem for minivan owners
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Remote control doors on minivans have made life a wholelot easier for many drivers.    

  Ever find yourself struggling for an extra hand..a child in one, back packs in the other?  that's  why remote control doors on minivans have become so popular.

  "My hands are full literally and figuratively."

Carolyn Chase has 4 children under the age of 7.   She loves her automatic door, but says sometimes the door has a mind of it's own.

  "The biggest concern I have is the door bounces back if i put my body weight into it..."

But the body weight of her children is a lot less, and not always is the door as forgiving.

  ỉƯơI've had a 3 year old standing there and found that the door didn't do any damage to the child, but psychologically it was the sense of being squished."

An Eyewitness News investigation found that these automatic doors are equipped with sensors that are supposed to reverse if an object or person is in its way.

  "I wish they were more sensitive."

But many driver's like carolyn are still concerned.

Her child was lucky. But  the investigators found numerous complaints to the government, some consumers who weren't as lucky.

 The owner of a 2003 Honda Odyssey reported that the automatic door closed on the child's head, and the child sustained head injuries.

The driver of a 2002 Chevrolet Venture reported that the automatic door failed to release and a child's finger became caught in the door.   A crowbar was needed to release the child's finger.

And another case, this time a ford windstar where an automatic door did not "kick back and closed" on the drivers hand injuring him.

 And when the investigators tested the sensitivity of the automatic doors we found that the force broke sticks and left dents in pencils.

But according to some of the manufacturers the doors "performed as designed."

The Eyewitness News investigators contacted the N ational Highway Taffic and Sfety administration, and although they admitted they are aware of these complaints, they are not pursuing an investigation.    But we did uncover a possible safety defect that the government is investigating.

There have been 56 complaints against the 1999 thru 2002 Ford Windstar minivans

and 9 complaints against the 2004 nissan quests...

The complaints claim the power sliding doors may not latch fully and may open while the minivan is in motion. No injuries have been reported....yet.

Ford and Nissan have issued numerous technical service bulletins concerning the doors opening on their own.

            The bulletins call for a comprehensive diagnostic and repair on the power sliding doors.

 the NTSA is conducting its own preliminary evaluation.  

            If they find the problems are serious enough,  there could be a recall.

  Bottom line, this is new technology and it's not perfect and parents have to be aware of it.




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