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Auto Recalls: Why are there so many automotive recalls these days?

It appears that a day can’t go by without hearing of another auto-related recall. General Motors has announced 29 recalls this year already, covering more than 13 million vehicles. That’s more cars than GM has sold in the past five years! And GM may announce more recalls this summer. GM is not alone. In 2013, more cars were recalled among all car companies then were sold by 45%. Car companies are on pace to break that number in 2014. Are recalls making us question the integrity of the cars we drive and the cars we plan on driving in the future?

auto recallThere are a number of reasons for so many recalls these days; including software-related glitches, the complexity of cars, modular manufacturing processes (using the same parts in many different car lines) and mounting fear among all automakers that litigation may be brought against them should a serious defect be found in their car lines.

Years back, most auto-related defects were handled with factory Technical Service Bulletins. With Technical Service Bulletins, any known problems would be taken care of only if a car owner complained of a particular issue, or if a proactive dealer or auto repair shop made the car owner aware of the bulletin.

Car companies are changing their strategy, thinking it’s better to come clean than to be dragged into court. Remember Toyota and their “runaway cars”? Toyota was fined 1.2 billion dollars for concealing information. And now GM is on the hot seat for concealing known defects regarding faulty ignition switches, which led to 13 deaths when air bags failed to deploy during an accident. The shift in the way car makers handle defects will no doubt continue to increase recalls.

Even with all the massive recalls we see these days, it appears that the consumer has a short memory. While people remain skeptical about the ethics of car makers, consumers soon forget and will buy the car they want regardless of a recall. Just look at Toyota. Many claimed that the sudden acceleration problem, which was concealed by Toyota for years, would hurt the brand. While it may have in the short run, Toyota bounced back in no time and is once again a world leader in car sales.

Today’s cars are technologically more complex than the rockets that took our astronauts to the moon. Safety features, such as collision avoidance systems are making cars safer. But, will the tradeoff be in increased defects as the modern-day vehicle becomes more complicated? My guess, as someone in the auto repair industry for 4 decades, is yes.

You can find out about recalls pertaining to your car by calling us (845-628-7900) or going to the National Highway Safety Administration website: http://www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/owners/SearchSafetyIssues

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