Total recall?

Q&A with Sharon Peters

Q: It seems like every time I turn on the TV I hear about another recall. Is there any way to find out how many vehicles have been affected? And how does that compare to years past? Maybe I’m just hypersensitive, but it seems like way more recently.

A: It was way more in 2014 than any other year. By Dec. 1, about 40 million cars in the U.S. had been issued recalls (about 26 million had been recalled by General Motors).

The number is a record. In 2004, 30.8 million were recalled. That was the record-holder until now.

Q: I read in the paper that taxpayer money is being used to fix a street problem downtown called “hummocks.” Never heard the word. Looked it up in the dictionary and it means “small hill.” We’re flat as a pancake. More obfuscation from the spenders of tax money?

A: Hummock is a term I, too, had never heard—at least applied to street repair. But I found the answer on the New York City streets-repair website.

A hummock is, according to that city’s explanation, where the asphalt has been pushed up into a “wave-like shape,” usually at intersection where there’s heavy bus or truck traffic.

We’ve all seen this. I wouldn’t describe it so much as a wave shape as it is a ridge of asphalt.

Such things are especially problematic for bicyclists or motorcyclists who can’t always see them in time.

They’re fixed by milling them flat or making them a little bit concave, then re-paving the spot.

Q: We’ve found our rear camera helpful in lots of situations. But here’s the weird thing: at the time when you probably need it most — in sloppy rainy, sleety or snowy weather, when you’re backing out of a parking lot after highway travel — the camera is nasty and nothing can be seen. Can’t imagine why no one thought of this when they were designing these things.

A: You’re right. Inclement-weather visibility can be a problem. Ford, for one, has realized that. It got some attention at the recent L.A. auto show when it announced that front and rear cameras on the new Explorer (hitting lots next summer) will be equipped with washers.

More to come, no doubt.

© CTW Features

What’s your question? Sharon Peters would like to hear about what’s on your mind when it comes to caring for, driving and repairing your vehicle. Email