Why U-Haul won’t rent trailers for Ford Explorers

by Walter Olson on June 2, 2011

“Every time we go to hire an attorney to defend a lawsuit, as soon as we say ‘Ford Explorer,’ they charge us more money,” explains a company spokeswoman. Today’s Explorer is based on a design entirely different from the model that attracted rollover litigation in the 1990s, which doesn’t seem to matter. [Edward Niedermeyer, Truth About Cars]

{ 4 comments }

1 wfjag 06.02.11 at 8:24 am

Sounds like the Corvair, all over again. According to Ralph Nadar, in his 1965 book, the Corvair was the unsafest car in America. Ralph relied on a suspect film done by a Ford mechanic for trial lawyers, and, ignored that when his book was published the 2d generation of Corvairs were already being manufactured and the re-design had eliminated any problem that might have existed. In 1973 a study for the NHTSA concluded that there was no problem, and the Corvair compaired favorably with other cars of its time in its handling. Others concluded that if there was a problem, it was that drivers were unfamiliar with the handling characteristics of a rear-engined car and it was driver error, not a design problem, that caused any handling problems.

The lesson is that when there is money to be made, who cares about the truth. The current Ford Explorer has nothing in common with the old ones that had defective Firestone tires — except sharing the same name. Still, guilt by association is enough for trial lawyers in products liability litigation because they hope that juries won’t understand the difference — and sometimes they are right.

2 Scott 06.02.11 at 8:31 am

I found that out the hard way after doing a favor for a friend and driving for a hour to pick up a tailor. I was none too pleased when they refused to allow me to pick it up since I had an explorer. I don’t understand why signing an additional waver explaining the potential increased ‘danger’ of towing with a explorer couldn’t have solved the problem. But I guess there are too many lawsuits where people sue even after being warned.

3 mojo 06.02.11 at 12:31 pm

So rename it. I suggest “GaiaCrusher”

4 William Nuesslein 06.05.11 at 5:31 am

for wfjag:

The tires would not cause a rollover. You are correct in infering scientific irrationality on the part of the U-Haul company. But gosh, an accident associated with an explorer would be easy pickings for a trial lawyer.

NHTSA is supposed to protect auto companies and the U-Haul company from junk science. Instead it glorifies junk science.

Almost everybody believes that regulation protects consumers. Not so. Safety, for example, results from engineering. Good companies with high standards have to be protected from competitors with low standards. The idea that ray laHood could engineer anything is ridiculous.

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