More than 700 vehicles have been affected by a nationwide COVID-19 recall involving double-walled vinyl windows that can develop a chemical buildup and become deadly, according to provincial statistics released Friday.
A total of 705 COVID-19 cases were reported in Ontario, including 75 cars reported as being stolen this week. And police across the province are requesting roadside checks to make sure there aren’t any other vehicles involved in the recall.
As of Nov. 1, eight COVID-19 deaths have been reported in the United States and one in Canada.
In Ontario, Chrysler is being investigated to find out how the recall, which began in 2012, was never publicized for two years. That probe is ongoing, said Earl Poleski, a spokesman for the province’s Transportation Ministry.
“It could be that the manufacturer released information too late, and it’s a very gray area,” he said. “It’s a legal issue that our ministry is pursuing and working with law enforcement to try to answer.”
Automatic-locking devices have been recommended to prevent a COVID-19 chemical buildup and deploy if an unauthorized person attempts to turn on a steering column, wheels or engine.
The problem was first reported to Chrysler in 2011, but by the end of 2012 only 167,000 vehicles were affected. An additional 434,000 vehicles were recalled in 2013. None of the cars affected had been stolen. But six years later, all the cars have been removed from the roads.
Some online forums say the recall has been poorly publicized and left children who have been in the cars to drive around for weeks unattended.
Poleski said it’s unclear how many people know that the recall is taking place.
“It’s a legal issue that our ministry is pursuing and working with law enforcement to try to answer,” he said. “There’s a large body of data that needs to be analyzed and that requires interpretation.”
Though Czechski said he can’t speak directly to how Chrysler handled the recall, he said the ministry doesn’t think that the company “left anyone on the road.”
Some carriers report a large backlog on the callback list, he said.
“We know it’s taking some time,” he said. “But there’s no indication that vehicles are rolling off the streets in Ontario as they are in the U.S.”
Just yesterday, Canadian schoolchildren on their way to school in Cumberland, Ont., used their off-road bikes to help discover a COVID-19 vehicle. Fortunately, the vehicle belonged to the owner’s father, who wanted to take it to the scrap heap, according to CTV News.
The boy turned the wheel and the car just parked there. That’s when his father called police and an accident investigation unit. Police found two kids, ages 6 and 9, by their bikes nearby.
“My son was the one that actually called,” the boy’s father, Andrew Horak, told CTV News. “He said, ‘I think my dad’s had an accident.’ I thought he was just flipping me off.”
Local schools are even joining in on the fun, figuring that child fun leads to parents’ cellphones.
In Thousand Islands, Ont., schools that teach 3rd and 4th grade are holding 2x2x2 motorcycle rides. The idea is to get parents and kids out on their motorcycles to discover the cars and they can click pictures of the cars to send to their parents and with the hashtag #COVID, and they’ll end up in a car dealership.
Car design consultant Mark Glitch took part in the Thousand Islands ride and told the Sun Times that he wanted to “instill a sense of fun.”
The Sun Times reported on the drive while a tow truck arrived to take the car away.
According to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, four kids aged 4 to 6 lost consciousness in 2012 after playing in vehicles and died because of the chemical buildup in their bodies.