Recalls, Recalls, & More Recalls

It’s official! 2014 is already the worst year in history for vehicle recalls. Through October, about 52 million vehicles – that’s roughly one out of every five vehicles registered in the U.S. – have been called back by their manufacturers for safety-related defects. This total has already blown away the previous all-time high of 30.8 million units recalled in 2004. With two months left on the calendar, 2014 could easily double the previous record. Manufacturers are announcing approximately two recalls every day!

So what is going on? Have automobile manufacturers forgotten about product quality? Absolutely not. What has prompted the surge is a much higher level of scrutiny and catching up on problems that should have been addressed years ago by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Consider the the most recent big recall affecting 2000 to 2008 model-year vehicles equipped with airbag inflators built by Japanese supplier Takata.

NHTSA is currently under investigation by the Department of Transportation at the direction of the Obama Administration. That investigation was prompted by General Motors’ February recall of 2.6 million small cars for a deadly ignition switch defect. According to the New York Times, NHTSA “failed to act on multiple reports and hundreds of consumer complaints about vehicles suddenly stalling.”

What should you do?

The first thing to do is determine whether your vehicle has an open recall. When a recall is issued, the manufacturer is required to contact every owner of record for that particular model by mail. Too many consumers tend to mistake recall announcements for junk mail. Additionally, if you bought your vehicle pre-owned, the manufacturer may not know that you are the current owner and you may not receive a notice. Fortunately, NHTSA has set up a free website at http://www.safercar.gov where you can simply enter your car’s vehicle identification number (or VIN). The vehicle VIN is noted both on the title and can also be found at the dashboard on the driver’s side of the vehicle, or on the driver’s side door on the door post. The NHTSA website above will list any unresolved recalls, or if there are none, it will simply state, “No Open Recalls.”

You can also register your vehicles with NHTSA and be contacted automatically if a safety issue is discovered, via the downloadable “Vehicle Recalls” app for Apple iOS and Android phones. This free app also enables you to submit complaints to NHTSA regarding possible safety concerns with your vehicle.

If you have an open recall, you should contact your Herb Chambers dealership and schedule an appointment to bring the vehicle to us as soon as possible. Making an appointment is important. In some cases the manufacture requires that we examine your vehicle first and place the order for the proper replacement parts. In other cases they may send us a supply of replacement parts in advance. Either way, our Service Advisors will be able to let you know exactly what the procedure and timetable will be when your appointment is made.

You should also know that you will not be charged for any recall-related repairs. If the recall involves the vehicle’s tires, you must have the issue addressed within 60 days upon receiving notification. While performing any recall repair, we also top off all of your fluids and conduct a complementary multi-point inspection of the vehicle. Additionally, in each of our dealerships (where permitted by the city or town) we will wash and vacuum the vehicle at no charge.

Recalls should not be ignored. According to the used-car title search company Carfax, last year more than 3.5 million used cars hit the market with unresolved recalls on their records. That number is expected to swell exponentially during 2014.

I hope you find this information helpful. Your safety is very important to us. You can contact any of our dealerships at any time if you have additional questions or concerns. Thanks for allowing us to serve you.

Herb