The Problem of Open Recalls

The Problem of Open Recalls

A vehicle that has an open recall means that it was flagged by the manufacturer at some point as needing a safety-related repair, but the owner did not get the work done so that the recall notice could be closed. Open recalls can cause you problems if you buy a used car, because the dangers of unrepaired recalls can be considerable. Think about the Takata air bag recalls, the cause of 20 fatalities and more than 180 injuries, and then consider whether you would want a vehicle with a recalled air bag that had not been repaired.

Carfax, a company that has been supplying buyers and owners with vehicular histories for over 30 years, recently revealed that greater than one-fifth of all U.S. vehicles possess an unrepaired recall notice, which adds up to more than 57 million vehicles. These unfixed motor vehicles put everyone at great risk.

The Current Research

During March, 2018, Carfax released demographic findings about those who aren’t fixing their recalled vehicles. Residents of the southern half of the United States are statistically the likeliest to ignore recall notices, with the highest open recall percentages found in Alabama, Arizona, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, and Texas. According to the statistics, one-third of all Texas vehicles have open recalls against them.

It’s not surprising to discover the types of persons and situations that would leave recalled vehicles unrepaired. The vehicle types most likely to have open recall notices are correlated with families and small businesses: SUVs, minivans, and light trucks. These groups of owners may be more squeezed for time and unable to schedule the needed repairs. Unfortunately, because recall repairs must be done at a dealership, it can be difficult to arrange getting the work done when a high volume of cars and trucks have open recalls. This has been the situation with a number of large recalls in the past.

Is It Really That Important?

Take all recalls seriously. What may appear to be a small issue to you could have larger ramifications. Recalls are issued only when a safety-related defect has been documented or when a vehicle or vehicular equipment fails to meet a federal safety standard. Here are some examples of past safety-related defects for vehicular parts that needed repair and for which vehicles were recalled:

  • Faulty steering parts that translate into a loss of control
  • Sticky accelerator pedals that mean a car cannot be stopped
  • Wiring defects that cause fires
  • Defective air bags that either don’t protect the occupants or actually harm them
  • Collapsing seats or seatbacks
  • Wheels that break or crack
  • Defective cooling system fan blades
  • Defective fuel system components.

Unrepaired open recalls can injure or kill you, your loved ones, and others. Ignoring a recall notice could be grounds for negligence if a crash ensues that causes serious injuries or deaths.

Recall Information at Your Fingertips

If you are in the market for a used car, be sure you check that the vehicle you want to purchase is not flagged with open recalls. A federal government web site enables you to research any passenger vehicle’s history (and this includes motorcycles) to discover whether any open recalls exist. All you need is the vehicle identification number (VIN).

It never hurts to check your current ride against the federal open recall database, in case you missed a notice. Owners of recalled vehicles receive notifications via the U.S. Postal Service, so if you’ve moved since you bought your car, you could well have missed a recall notice.

If you discover an open recall against a vehicle you want to purchase, it should not cost you anything to have it repaired. The statute of limitations for no-charge repairs extends until 10 years past a vehicle’s sale date.