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Florida drivers deal with melting dashboards this summer

After all the dangerous and potentially deadly product defects we have seen in various manufacturers' cars over the past few years, a sticky dashboard may seem like a minor problem. However, for those of us here in South Florida, a problem caused by hot, sunny weather can be a significant one.

One woman who has lived in the area for over a quarter-century says, "I've never, never, ever seen a melting car." That's what has happened to her Nissan, however. The problem, according to a service manager for the company, is that as the sun beats down on the car's dashboard, a chemical reaction with the glue under the dashboard causes soft, sticky spots.

The problem isn't just cosmetic, however. The shininess of these spots causes glare, according to the Nissan driver. She says that while driving, she has to lean down and look "between the two glare spots." She notes that this is a safety issue.

This consumer and about a dozen others have reported the issue to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The NHTSA acknowledges that it's aware of the problem. It says, however, that so far it hasn't found a safety defect on which it needs to act.

Drivers of other makes of vehicles, including Lexus, Mazda and Toyota, have reported the same issue with their cars. On July 23, WPTV in West Palm Beach reported that a Miami attorney has filed a lawsuit against Lexus and a South Florida dealership over the problem and is seeking class action status for the suit.

The problem for some consumers has been getting the manufacturer to foot the bill for a new dashboard. According to one consumer, Nissan refused to pay to replace hers. According to the WPTV report, a West Palm Beach Lexus driver said the manufacturer agreed to pay only half the cost of a new dash for her car.

When enough people have the same issue with a vehicle, we have seen that class action suits can be successful in getting financial compensation. The power of multiple plaintiffs and the media attention that class action suits draw can help incentivize automakers to take action to correct a defective product and compensate those who have suffered damage or injury.

Source: WTHR Channel 13, "Dashboards a sticky situation for some Nissan drivers" Aug. 05, 2014

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