24 Jul Why You Should Pay Attention to that Vehicle Recall
Safety recalls are no joke. Neglecting them can be expensive; increase your liability; and even contribute to driver, passenger, or bystander fatalities.
Facing the largest vehicle safety recall in history, Japanese auto parts supplier Takata filed for bankruptcy in June. Malfunctioning air bags affected an estimated 42 million vehicles in the United States, and resulted in at least 11 deaths and approximately 180 injuries across the country. The incident was a reminder why drivers should take safety recalls seriously.
Responding to Safety Recalls Can Save Lives
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 53.2 million vehicles were affected by 927 separate safety recalls in 2016, making it the third record-setting year in a row for safety recalls. The rising number of safety recalls parallels statistics for vehicle fatalities: an estimated 40,000 in 2016, up 6% from 2015, according to the National Safety Council (NSC).
Most safety recalls deal with repairing critical issues, including:
- Air bags that fail to deploy
- Vehicles stalling
- Fluid and oil leaks
- Parking brake malfunctions
- Seat belt malfunctions
- Loss of steering control
- Separation of the drive shaft from the transmission
Needless to say, if any of these crucial systems malfunctioned in an emergency situation serious harm to drivers, passengers, and nearby pedestrians would be a likely outcome.
Responding to Safety Recalls Will Save on Costly Repairs
Neglecting to respond to a safety recall could result in destruction of the vehicle’s value. In addition to being a potential safety hazard to others on the road, malfunctioning auto parts can cause secondary damage to other parts of a vehicle, requiring costly repairs and precious time or even making the vehicle unusable. For example, a driveshaft separation in a vehicle could cause additional, catastrophic damage to fuel lines and brake lines, resulting in more costly and intensive repairs in the future.
For fleet drivers, safety recalls can be a concern, with the vehicle and driver being sidelined while repairs are being made. While an emphasis on safety by the NHTSA has led to an increasing number of recalls, it also means fewer operational issues and future maintenance costs brought on by secondary damage caused by unresolved equipment issues.
Ignoring a Recall Means You’re Liable
In the case of an accident or injury involving a recalled vehicle, the manufacturer, seller, and distributor are liable.
The Takata recall resulted in four automakers (BMW, Mazda, Subaru, and Toyota) settling a$553 million class-action lawsuit. The settlement is intended to cover customer expenses, pay for rental vehicles to cover recalled cars, and to accelerate Takata’s safety recall completion rate.
Though, in the short term, simply ignoring a recall may allow business to carry on as usual, the Takata air bag incident illustrates how it could cost more time and money, and cause headaches for drivers and their employers in the long term than it would if the recall wasn’t ignored in the first place.
To check the recall status of any vehicle, go to www.recalls.gov and search for your vehicle’s make and model and whether it is currently facing a recall. The website www.nhtsa.gov/recalls allows drivers to enter their vehicle’s VIN number to check its status.
It’s important to be proactive in handling recalls, because it will ultimately save you and your company time, money, and stress. Repairs made for recalls come free of charge by auto dealers. Staying ahead of the ball when it comes to recalls will also allow you and your company to plan for a vehicle rental or loan while your current vehicle is in for repairs, keeping you safely on the road and productive.