Drivers want sticky dashboards fixed

Drivers: Glare makes driving dangerous

By Amy Davis - Reporter/Consumer Expert

HOUSTON - The dashboards of hundreds, possibly thousands of cars, are melting in the hot sun, and some drivers said it's a safety concern car makers won't fix.

When the sun pops out, Kay Samson pops open her sun shade.

"I love this car," said Sampson of her Nissan.

Sampson even spent extra money to tint the windows. But now the dashboard of the sporty car has soft sticky spots that make it difficult to clean.

Ann Borgess has the same issue -- when the hot sun hits the sticky surface, a shiny safety issue stares back at her.

"There's the glare," said Borgess. "And when that comes up, you can't really see where you are going properly. It's quite dangerous, I think."

Borgess posted her complaint on Nissan's Facebook page, where there are hundreds of comments. But it's not just a Nissan problem. Derrick Little of Houston posted a video on YouTube of the sticky dash in his Toyota Camry.

"You can see where I've accidentally nicked it and the thing comes off," he explains in the video. "I mean, stand behind your product, Toyota."

Toyota and Nissan owners have filed most of the 300-plus complaints with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, but it's affecting Lexus and Mazda cars as well.
"Anytime you have hundreds of complaints on a particular problem, that's an indication that there's a widespread defect," said Clarence Ditlow, with the Center for Auto Safety.

He said it should be common sense a dashboard should never melt.

"The cause of it's real simple," said Ditlow. "It's poor engineering."
Toyota admitted it changed how it engineered its dashboards in 2009. Almost all the complaints have been on cars made before that year.

A service manager at a Nissan dealership said the sun's heat causes a chemical reaction in the glue used to stick the plastic dashboard to the pad underneath, but Nissan's corporate office said the problem is so limited, it doesn't know what's causing the melting.

One driver took pictures to prove it's not just a cosmetic issue. He said the glare is blinding and dangerous.

"It's a safety concern, a safety defect. There should be a recall nationwide," Ditlow said.

But NHTSA, the federal agency that could force a recall, said the complaints don't show a safety defect trend, even though Local 2 discovered four accidents reported to the agency that drivers said were caused by the glare of their melting dashboards.

"Unfortunately, all too often it takes a body count to get a safety recall, but the purpose of safety recalls is to prevent deaths and injuries," said Ditlow.

Most of the complaints are coming from warm weather states like Texas, Florida, Louisiana and California.

If you have a similar problem, you can let NHTSA know by filing a complaint on the agency's website. here.

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