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Why so many vehicle recalls? | Hamilton Georgetown

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Why so many vehicle recalls? | Hamilton Georgetown

 

Yesterday’s
blog post about Chrysler recalls prompted a study of recalls in the recent past
and the somewhat concerning trend upwards in their frequency and number of
vehicles involved.

The most
recent Chrysler recall is almost a million vehicles. That’s on top of the
recalls of almost all other manufacturers. Chrysler is far from the only
automaker who has had to issue recall notices over the past couple of years,
everyone has had to do it. But why?

Blame is
often put at the feet of poor manufacturing, poor quality control and the
desire for profit over safety. Thankfully, this is far from the truth. If
anything, quality control and manufacturing are better than ever across the
board. So what’s the problem?

TREAD

In 2000,
the U.S. passed the TREAD Act. The TREAD Act changed the focus of recalls from
issuing them when customers reported faults to the automaker having to actively
find them first. This meant automakers actively testing and retesting their
vehicles to find any potential fault before the customer become aware of it.

Ignoring
these faults can lead to heavy fines, so it’s often cheaper to look for problems
and then issue a recall before a customer finds it.

Our
litigious society also has something to do with the increase in vehicle
recalls. A lawsuit, or worse, a class-action is an expensive business. Not just
expensive in cash terms, but also to the brand. Avoiding lawsuits and negative
publicity makes the investment in rigorous testing and quality control a
worthwhile exercise.

So with that
information in mind, it’s often the automaker who will voluntarily issue a
recall notice for even the most minor defects. What could have been remedied in
a technical bulletin often results in a full blown recall. The main cause of
this is safety. If there is any, even theoretical chance of injury, the
automaker will issue a recall.

So it seems
it’s cheaper, better for the brand and easier to issue a recall voluntarily
than wait for a customer to find problems, or worse, be injured from one. The
U.S. government also doubled the potential fine the NHTSA could impose to $35
million, so there are certainly good reasons for the automakers being careful!

Like it or
loathe it, the current frequency of recalls is likely to remain. It’s simply
the simplest way for automakers to avoid litigation and large fines. It’s also
the best way to be seen to be taking their customers seriously, so has a double
benefit for the companies themselves.

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