According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, people only get their cars fixed after a safety recall about two-thirds of the time. Can you believe that? You’ve been notified of a potential safety issue with your car, and you’re told there will be no charge for fixing it. All you have to do is bring it to a dealership. Easy, right?
Apparently, it’s not that easy. In fact, it’s a huge problem. Recalls aren’t issued for every little thing; a recall is only issued for defects that pose a serious threat to health or safety. In other words, if your vehicle is on the recall list, it’s over something pretty big.
How big? Well, you may recall last year’s recall of around 27 million cars and trucks in the U.S. alone. It was among the largest recalls in history, and it involved ignition switches that could suddenly shut the vehicle off without any warning — even at highway speeds. GM acknowledges at least 90 people have died and 163 others have been injured.
Or, consider Takata Corp., which supplies air bag assemblies to many major automakers. The problem appears to be that the airbag’s inflator can cause the airbags to explode out at such tremendous force that they break the inflator itself, which is then hurled like shrapnel into the occupants of the car. There have been at least 5 deaths and over 100 injuries from these defective airbags.
2014 was an historic year for recalled vehicles. The number of cars and trucks in the U.S. that were recalled for major safety issues exceeded 60 million for the first time in history. Is it recall fatigue that’s keeping owners of these vehicles from taking action?
We may never know the answer. What GM has found out was that owners often only had their recall fixes done if they received multiple mailings, phone calls, and the promise of a free loaner vehicle while the repairs were being performed.
If you’re not certain whether your own vehicle is subject to an important safety recall, you can find out using the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s VIN search. If you’ve been injured in a car accident and wonder whether an auto defect may have been at play, you should discuss the situation with an attorney right away.