Why automakers fail to fix millions of recalled vehicles every year - Mercedes Benz SLK Forum

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#1 Old 05-09-2014
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Why automakers fail to fix millions of recalled vehicles every year

Earlier this week, General Motors attempted to demonstrate how it's still safe to drive one of the 2.6 million vehicles it's recalled for ignitions that could shut off without warning, producing this video of a Chevy Cobalt going through various tests, and emphasizing that all will be OK if owners drive with only one key, and not the five-pound mass of key fobs and flashlights that now adorn many chains.

But based on trends in automotive recalls, many of the affected owners won't hear this, or anything else about the recall despite the congressional hearings and media coverage. If GM hits the industry's average for getting owners to bring their cars in for fixes, there would still be more than 500,000 vehicles on the road with a potential safety defect.

Call it the apathy hurdle. Vehicle recalls have become so common — with 632 recalls covering 22 million cars and trucks in 2013 alone — that a sizable number of owners simply don't care. Thousands will not be reachable by mail, which automakers must use as the official communications method for notifying them. And since many owners don't keep service records, there will be no way to know if a recall's been performed on a car when its sold; used-car dealers are not required to inspect for or make recall repairs before selling a vehicle.

Under federal law, automakers have to file quarterly reports on their recalls indicating how many of the affected vehicles actually get fixed. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's own data, like the chart shown above from a 2012 industry presentation, puts the recall completion rate for all vehicles at 77 percent, with passenger cars at 79 percent. Even if GM outperforms the average and gets 80 percent of the 2.6 million vehicles it's called back, that would still leave 540,000 unaccounted for.

To be fair, not all of those 2.6 million vehicles are likely still on the road. Many of them may have been built with the secretly upgraded ignition spring designed to fix the problem, a change GM engineers put into production without proper notice.

And other automakers have made sizable efforts to reach every owner affected by a serious problem. In the 1999 recall of Firestone tires on Ford Explorer SUVs, the companies aimed to replace all of the 6.5 million tires sold, running several ad campaigns and even calling customers directly. They came close — but seven years later, Firestone had to re-issue the recall because some 200,000 tires were still unaccounted for, mostly as spares.

Given the publicity generated by the GM recall, a higher than average number of affected owners should know to get their vehicles repaired. But if they don't, there's no backstop for whoever gets the keys next — and history suggests there will be thousands of such cases on the roads for years to come.



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#2 Old 05-12-2014
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Silly that there's no way of telling whether a car's had recall repairs made.

The simple way used by UK motorcycle dealers is to mark the VIN plate with a punch below a given character position. E.g. Punch mark under char 1 means recall 1 dealt with, etc.

I know that a dealer / seller could cheat, but that would lay them open to prosecution.

Before buying a motorcycle, most bikers will check these things, or get the dealer to sort it out before they'll purchase.

Maybe bikers care more about this sort of thing.
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#3 Old 05-12-2014
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Simple...very simple...Money money money...................Manufacturers weigh bad publicity, exposure to law suits, effect on sales, effect on stock price vs. cost of the recall. Manufacturers could do a lot more than send a post card to owners.
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#4 Old 05-12-2014
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What is the recall for? Is it because the key is coming out of the ignition due to the billion little trinkets people put on their key ring?

Personally I keep my car keys and all other keys separate. The Mercedes key is all by itself without a key ring. The Jeep keys only has the Jeep key and the remote fob on it's ring. I have a separate ring I carry in my backpack that has my house and work keys.
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#5 Old 05-12-2014
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I'm sorry if the owners don't bring the cars in, what are the manufacturers supposed to do?

I guess we could use the registration information to have the police show up, but we don't want that, right?
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#6 Old 05-12-2014
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Agreed.

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Originally Posted by thirteendog View Post
What is the recall for? Is it because the key is coming out of the ignition due to the billion little trinkets people put on their key ring?

Personally I keep my car keys and all other keys separate. The Mercedes key is all by itself without a key ring. The Jeep keys only has the Jeep key and the remote fob on it's ring. I have a separate ring I carry in my backpack that has my house and work keys.
+1 thirteendog

I have a separate ring for my SLK, another one for my FR-S, and still another one for my wife's BMW. Additionally, I have a separate key ring for my house, another one for my work keys, et cetera.
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#7 Old 05-15-2014
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GM recall update May 15 2014

GM recalls an additional 2.7 million vehicles, reveals more sins of the past

Nearly four months after first revealing it neglected safety problems in millions of older models, General Motors announced today another massive batch of recalls — five in total, covering eight models built over a decade and affecting 2.7 million vehicles. While GM says none of the safety issues it's fixing today have lead to deaths, some had been the source of injuries and hundreds of complaints — and in one case, GM had issued a partial fix and recall already, raising new questions about why it waited several years to repair all cars affected.

So far this year, GM has recalled more than 11 million cars and trucks in 24 different campaigns, part of a shakeout stemming from the ignition defects linked to at least 13 deaths and years of foot-dragging by the company. The automaker said today's recalls would add $200 million to the $1.3 billion it spent fixing old vehicles in the first quarter.

The bulk of those affected by today's recalls: 2.4 million 2004-2012 Chevrolet Malibus, 2004-2007 Chevrolet Malibu Maxxes, 2005-2010 Pontiac G6s and 2007-2010 Saturn Auras. GM says a bad control module could cause the tail lights to either fail to turn on when the brakes are applied or turn on by themselves; the same issue could also cause problems with "cruise control, traction control, electronic stability control and panic braking assist."
It's a problem that had generated more than 1,000 complaints from owners and reports of three injuries from crashes. GM had even recalled about 8,000 Pontiac G5s for the problem back in January 2009 — and yet, also told dealers how to fix the problem in all other affected models without a recall. After receiving more than 300 complaints on its own in the years since, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration opened a new investigation into the problem last year.

The other recalls GM announced today include:

— 111,889 2005-2007 model year Chevrolet Corvettes, whose low-beam headlamps can intermittently fail due to a bent wire. Newer models that suffer from the same problem will get covered by an extended warranty. This too was the focus of a NHTSA defect probe.

— 140,067 Chevrolet Malibus from the 2014 model year with 2.5L engines and stop/start technology, where the brake can suddenly require far more force to engage. Four complaints, no injuries.

— 19,225 Cadillac CTS cars from the 2013-2014 model year, where the windshield wiper motor could break if a car's jump-started while the wipers are blocked by ice or snow.

— And 477 2014 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra light duty pickups and 2015 model year Chevrolet Tahoe SUVs, whose owners are being told to not only stop driving their trucks but have them towed via flat-bed to dealers. GM says it discovered a manufacturing defect at the factory that could cause the front tie rod and steering gear to fail, leading to a crash.

GM's new safety and recall chief, Jeff Boyer, has said the automaker would move faster to spot and repair problems under his tenure; a similar shake-out of long-simmering issues happened at Toyota following its floor-mat debacle a few years back, when it also called back millions of vehicles. And there are still other lingering problems — like the rusted brake lines in millions of GM pickups — where the automaker remains under investigation by federal safety officials. NHTSA still has four other defect probes open involving GM vehicles. Today's announcements may be the biggest for now, but they likely won't be the last.


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#8 Old 05-15-2014
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