Vehicle Recalls

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