Neglecting Safety Notices A Common Problem

Having your vehicle recalled is not a fun experience. If the car is relatively new, it can be frustrating to find yourself dealing with repair issues so early in the car’s life. If the car is older, you may wonder if it is worth the time and trouble to have the necessary repair completed. After all, the defect hasn’t hurt you yet. The result is that tens of millions of recalled vehicles do not get the repairs they require under the terms of the recall.

The truth is that there are countless reasons why vehicle owners do not take action when their vehicles are recalled. Some owners never learn of the defect. Cars may change owners several times before the recall is issued. Car companies and safety regulators face a tall task in tracking down a vehicle’s owners to get them the recall information. Some owners may disregard recall notices as being just more junk mail. There is little to distinguish an important recall notice from the pile of advertisements and requests many of us receive in the mail.

Even among owners who receive the recall notice and appreciate its message, many choose to ignore the issue. J.D. Power analyzed the data concerning vehicle recalls and found that the factors most closely tied to which owners get their vehicles serviced after a recall are the age and style of the vehicle, along with the type of repair and the scope of the recall. Newer vehicles are more likely to receive recommended repairs. Likewise, recalls issued for powertrain defects, brake defects and electrical defects lead to a higher percentage of completed repairs. Older vehicles and those with recalls tied to suspension or airbag defects are less likely to be repaired.

Relatively few owners take the time to register their vehicles with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The NHTSA, therefore, has limited ability to get the best information to the people who need it most. Vehicle manufacturers are left to disseminate information about recalls. The current system leaves much to be desired and is contributing to the low rates of participation in recalls that could save lives and prevent injuries in serious car accidents.

Source: Forbes, “Many U.S. Car Owners Are Ignoring Recalls,” by Jim Gorzelany, 29 July 2016

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