Managing Vehicle Recalls

There’s a little stack of recall notices on my small desk in the kitchen. At least one for each vehicle each family member owns. Two for the Jeep, three for the Toyota, two for the Dodge and one for the Ford. I’m pretty sure everyone’s airbags are recalled at this point.

It seems hardly a day goes by without the evening news including a vehicle recall notice, most recently that Kia and Hyundai engines can catch on fire.  I wonder, were these defects not noticed years back? Maybe it was harder to find owners to send the notices to if they were, or has the fast-paced world of pumping out the latest and greatest caused quality control to go out the window altogether?  

As it turns out there are two answers, and they both confirm that yes, we are seeing more recalls than decades past. The first reason is that, just like every complex machine we own from washing machines to motorcycles, many of the parts that make up these machines are coming from the same manufacturer. Brands are names and logos with some defining characteristics in what the products looks like on the outside, though under the hood and beyond the dashboard many of the gidgets and gadgets that make the machine run are somewhat standard issue. Take the washing machine for instance; you have a box with a drum inside. You push buttons or turn knobs at the top of the box, put the clothes in the drum, and viola- you’ll soon have clean clothes. Most washing machines spin that drum of dirty jeans into clean pants via a motor, pump, belt, transmission, and a computer board. Back in the day most of these components were made by the manufacturer of the box, the one with the brand and the logo. Today, that motor might be made by company ABC and happens to be the same company that makes the motors in half a dozen washing machine brands. Same story with the rest of the parts that make the drum spin. Vehicle manufacturing is no stranger to this modern mode of mass production.

A great example of this is the Takata Air Bag. Twenty-two separate vehicle manufactures are listed as having Takata air bags, I couldn’t find the list of how many in total have their air bags recalled or not. This is just one example how one part on one make/model could be a small part of a recall on thousands of parts in dozens of makes and models. The air bag recall affected 42 million vehicles made by everyone from Chrysler to Volkswagen.  Which leads us to the second reason we’re getting so many notices of these recalls- it’s too dangerous to not pay attention.

Too many recalls were being discovered after the defect had caused a tragedy. This lead to a demand for more oversight into the safety of our vehicles. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration stepped up its efforts to find defects before more people got hurt. Now, it is up to us as car owners to stay on top of getting those recall issues taken care of.  It is also important not to assume that if you haven’t received a notice you don’t have a recall. 

Experts suggest checking your VIN number for possible recalls becomes a maintenance habit. Checking each time you change your oil for example will ensure you are staying on top of things. Heck, since we’re already thinking about it why not check now? Click here to enter the NHTSA recall search site. I need to get off this computer and get those appointments made.

 Blog by: Allison Green

 

New Road Designs, Crazy or Crafty?

If you have ever driven through a traffic circle or found yourself driving on a road that suddenly forces you to cross into what feels like the wrong lane there is a good chance you have wondered, what were they thinking?

As it turns out there’s a method behind all that road twisting madness and an intention to get everyone from point A to point B with a few less crashes than our highway designs of the past. There is one thing for sure, any unexpected turn, twist or curve certainly slows us down a bit, and right there my friends is the entire reason for the new designs.

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Obviously, we all know by now that driving while distracted is a terrible idea. However, even if you are an exemplary example of the fully focused driver, there is a good chance that many of the other drivers sharing your route are engaging with their smart phone or their vehicles built in technology. As a society we have tried just about everything imaginable to convince people to keep their hands on the wheel and their eyes on the road. Public education on the dangers of distracted driving to laws that prohibit the use of cell phones/smart phones while driving have both helped the situation but by no means solved the problem of well, humans being human.

The unfortunate statistics show that this situation is only growing. 3,450 people were killed in accidents in 2016 that were caused by distracted drivers and 391,000 injured from the same cause in 2015. The World Resource Institute created a “Safe System” design approach that has begun to be implemented around the world. This system is already proving to significantly reduce crashes and fatalities.  Whether you love them or hate them, roundabouts or traffic circles provide the following benefits that have shown to make driving safer:

1.     Vehicle speeds are typically reduced to 10 to 20 miles per hour.

2.     Because there are no traffic lights, accidents normally caused from someone trying to get to the others side of a stale yellow are eliminated.

3.     Traffic flows one way only resulting in a reduction of head on collisions.  

Of course, as these designs only work so long as everyone follows the rules, which just like the rule of putting the phone away before starting the car is not exactly followed by everyone. Our world is constantly changing, as is our technology, our vehicles and even the infrastructure we travel on. Who knows what the roads of the future may look like. For now, if anything, we at least know why they are the way they are.

As we embark on the holidays we at Richards’ Collision Center wish everyone a Safe & Happy Holiday and Journey! https//:www.richardscollisioncenter.com

 Blog by: Allison Green

 

 

 

Wishing you a Safe Shopping Season

You’ve all heard or seen the warnings every year informing everyone to be aware that their cars are often a target during the holiday shopping season. Any would-be thief knows that there is a good chance your vehicle has plenty of valuable offerings from your own personal items to all those purchases soon to be heartwarming gifts. Only adding to vulnerability, the sun has gone to bed by around 5:30 p.m. Just in time for you to get off work and head to the stores. Adopting the following tips can help keep yourself, your car and your belongings safer so that you can simply enjoy the holidays.

Lady Shopping
  • Remove ice or snow from windows and roof before heading out so that you aren’t forced to take care of winter woes in a parking lot.

  • Park in areas that are well lit. If possible, park in a spot that puts the driver’s door in direct sight of the store.

  • Create a way to be sure you can remember where you parked. Look at the store signage before you get out of the car to see what you can reference to find your car when you get back out. For instance, if a store has named sections such as grocery, pharmacy, coffee, entrance- remember which one you’re car is parked near. Or look at the name of the store “THE SAVINGS STORE”, remember which letters or word you are closest to. For large parking lots or garages, take a photo of the nearest lot/row sign. There are also downloadable apps for your smartphone to help you locate your car such as Find My Car Smarter and Anchor Pointer.

  • Don’t leave valuables or shopping bags in plain sight.  Put purchases in the trunk.

  • Don’t leave the vehicle running when you aren’t in it. A running vehicle is an invitation for theft.

  • Obviously, lock the doors and make sure all windows are rolled up! Take a few seconds before getting out of your vehicle to get focused- being in a rush can make us forget even the simplest things such as making sure the doors are locked.

  • Keep your phone easily accessible, however stay vigilant, undistracted and be obviously aware of your surroundings. Make eye contact with those you pass as you enter and leave the store. 

  • Avoid carrying large amounts of cash.

  • Keep your wallet in an inside coat pocket or front pants pocket. Don’t let purses or bags hang where they can easily be grabbed.

  • Have your keys in your hand before you leave the store. Most key remotes only unlock the drivers side door with the first unlock click. If shopping alone, don’t unlock all doors.

  • When possible, don’t shop alone. Having someone with you can significantly reduce the likelihood of you being robbed.

All the while you are protecting yourself keep an eye out for others and call 911 immediately if you see a crime occurring. With all these valuable tips in mind everyone can be a little safer during the hustle and bustle of the greatest shopping months of the year!  Happy & Safe Shopping!

Blog by: Allison Green 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When Water and Cars Don’t Mix

We see the scene on the news every time heavy rains come. The car, the police, the fireman and the water. Sometimes a flash flood will surprise a fully unexpected driver, though quite often this scene is the result of the driver thinking “I can get through that”. Followed by a call to 911. Our most recent statistics show 64% of flood related deaths happen to people in vehicles. A small car can be carried away by just 12” of moving water, nearly all vehicles can be carried away in 2’ of moving water. That one foot of moving water can create 500 pounds of force. 500 pounds.

Your vehicle might be able to handle or pull that much weight though only when the tires are gripping the ground. Moving water doesn’t allow for any kind of control no matter what type of vehicle you may be driving. Discover what to do if you find yourself caught in a flood event at the American Safety Council site. So, everyone reading this- you’ll never attempt to drive through water right? Great! Moving on to other water woes…

Wet roads

Any amount of rain, especially after a dry spell can create an oily mess on the surface of roads. Experts recommend you don’t use cruise control, reduce your speed and increase traveling distance between other cars to avoid an accident caused by either yourself or someone else hydroplaning. Obviously as in any inclement weather, check tire pressure, wipers and use your headlights.

Car damage

Over one million vehicles were damaged by last years hurricanes Irma and Harvey. Without doing a little homework, one of those vehicles could be your next used car purchase. Flood damaged cars can have electrical damage that may not start creating problems for months as well as trapped mold and mildew and rusting to many of the car’s components.

Understanding rivers

Just because it isn’t raining doesn’t mean your nearby river won’t flood. The Missouri River for example starts in the Rocky Mountains, flows east to North Dakota then south to the Mississippi River. A heavy rainstorm anywhere along that route can increase the rivers levels further down. Tributaries to the Missouri River will drain quickly into the Missouri until the high water pushes flooding back into those smaller rivers and streams. A small stream can easily go from a quaint walk-able waterway to a raging river during flooding, then just as quickly back to the peaceful stream you know and love.  

Other causes of flash flooding

Concrete doesn’t absorb water, so as rain falls on largely developed areas that water keeps moving looking for its eventual path to the ocean. Our States, Counties and Cities do their best to prevent flooding with smart planning and engineering, however mother nature will and does remind us we always have more to learn.

So the next time you clean out the car and come across that little window breaking tool in your drivers side door, remember some common sense can help keep you from ever having to use it. May all your travels be safe and dry!

*If you have flood damage to your vehicle call Richards’ Collision Center for quality, reliable auto body services: 816-767-0707. We work with your insurance company.

Blog by: Allison Green

 

 

Buyer Be Prepared Before a New Vehicle Purchase!

Whether off the line new or new to you, there are several things you can and should do to prepare to buy your next vehicle. We have compiled a few key items you can check off to help you be a smart and savvy shopper and hopefully a few steps ahead of the game.

Where to buy:

For sale by owner- For vehicles sold by the current owner you’ll need to take a few extra steps and precautions before even going to take a look at a vehicle for sale by these means.

  1. Only meet in public places where you are sure you will be around many other people. If possible only meet during daylight hours, if not ensure this place is well lit. 
  2. Take someone with you, know the sellers' name, phone number and description before you get there.   
  3. Ask for the VIN number and do your homework ahead of time.   
  4. Ask the seller if he/she has a clean title. If not, this is a red flag and it’s best to move on.

Dealerships- One of the best ways to find a good dealership is to talk to your friends! Where have they purchased a new vehicle and had a good experience? Check with the Better Business Bureau, and online reviews for dealerships.

Buy Here Pay Here- Payday loan’s little cousin offers almost anyone a car with often no income or credit verification. That comes with a big cost. According to Road and Track, the average interest rate at one of these dealerships is 19% and as high as 29%. They also often have a “one strike you’re out” late payment policy and will repossess your vehicle after one late payment.

Understanding financing:

Buying a vehicle on credit is the most common way American’s buy their rides. Getting the best deal on financing while protecting your credit requires a bit of being in the know.

  1. Credit Union, Bank, or Dealership financing? Per Bankrate, Credit Unions typically beat banks by 1%. Sometimes dealerships will have financing specials that are the best route to take, however, check with your bank or credit union first to see what they have to offer. Be sure to find out if there are better rates with a higher down payment as well.
  2. Know your credit scores before you go shopping. A low score finance approval may come with such a high-interest rate you might be better off spending a few months cleaning up that credit report before you buy.
  3. Protect your credit in the process of getting approved. Dealerships will often have your credit pulled by multiple lenders to shop for the best rate to offer you. When done in the same day they count as one hit against your credit score, however, if you go to several dealerships over a period of time and apply for a loan it could have a larger negative impact on your credit.

Used vehicle safety:

  1. Recalls- Go to: https://www.nhtsa.gov/recalls. This site allows you to search by VIN number.
  2. Vehicle history reports- There are several online sites that provide full history reports that can provide police reports, repair documents and insurance claims. Many of these reports are free and will help you to know what previous issues and or potential issues exist with the vehicle you are looking to purchase.

Insurance:

Sleep on it and call your insurance company before you buy! Any salesperson who pushes you to leave the lot in one of the lots vehicles is one to be concerned about. Get your data, go home, decide tomorrow. Get an insurance quote on the vehicle you’re thinking about picking up and making your own. There’s nothing worse than finding out the insurance policy is beyond your budget after you’ve already purchased your vehicle.

Blog By: Allison Green