Recalls on the increase

Posted on December 14th, 2017 by Rob Marshall


Perhaps we should be grateful that the number of vehicle recalls is going-up, as manufacturers are encouraged to admit fault and undergo the expensive operation of recalling and fixing newer vehicles with safety-critical defects.

Safety critical defects

According to the Stericycle Expert Solutions Recall and Notification Index, 2017’s third quarter saw recall levels rise by 5%, compared with the same period last year, with faulty airbags, seat belts and brakes being the most common items.

While the organisation’s European Vice President admitted that faulty airbags recalls are decreasing, because car-makers have acknowledged and are addressing the issues, he admitted that recall notices overall are likely to remain high, due to safety standards increasing. It is my belief that, because safety equipment has become more prolific and increasingly complicated, especially in relation to autonomous systems, manufacturers have to face issues with any inability of the latest technology to function perfectly in the real world.

Non-critical items

However, it is worth car owners being aware that, because recall programmes are hideously expensive, car manufacturers will not issue them for relatively minor problems. Non-safety critical faults tend to be addressed via a ‘TSB’, or Technical Service Bulletin. This is when the car-maker tells its franchise dealership network to make modifications, or even replace parts, when the car is presented for routine maintenance. This work tends to be performed without the customer even being aware.

However, I am not insisting that you have your car serviced at the main dealer – decent aftermarket garages can perform the work just as proficiently. Yet, should your car not possess a full main dealer service history, especially if it is under five years-old, you should enquire with your main dealer whether, or not, your car has any outstanding TSBs.

The other issue relates to software. As with domestic computers, the vast number of Electronic Control Modules (ECUs) within the modern motor car can develop glitches and many of these are solved with software updates. At main dealer service level, they are also downloaded from the manufacturer’s mainframe. This is less likely to be performed by an aftermarket garage, unless they have invested heavily in advanced diagnostic equipment. It is worth asking the question, if that garage could do this work, because many smaller outfits do not have the resources to invest and maintain such expensive equipment that will help your car run more efficiently and, above all, be safer.