Recalls have been around for decades with vehicle manufactures, well actually any manufacturer of products. The most earliest one I can remember was from the Ford motor company recalling in the vicinity of 23 Million vehicles due to a transmission park lock issue, it caused 12 deaths and many accidents. More recently Takata airbags featuring in many media press releases.
In the name of public safety, recalls will continue across a range of products for the foreseeable future.
What is a safety defect?
A safety defect is a failure of a product or component as a result of its design or construction, which can occur in the automotive industry. If a potential failure is unchecked, it’s deemed likely to affect the safe operation of the vehicle, posing a risk to the driver, occupants and other road users.
These defects aren’t usually identified during maintenance or warrant of fitness inspections and, generally, no warning signs are given while the vehicle is in use. The defect is usually discovered by the manufacturer.
With exception to the Takata airbag notifications this year
What is a safety recall?
After a safety defect has been identified by a manufacturer, a recall will be put in place and owners of potentially affected vehicles will be contacted and requested to return the vehicle back to them. Safety is paramount for any vehicle manufacturer and robust procedures ensure recalls are carried out if a safety-related issue is found in a vehicle.
Don’t ignore the letter
Manufacturers usually notify vehicle owners about a product recall by post. Typically, once the manufacturer has received the parts for the vehicle and is ready to resolve the defect, they send owners a letter asking them to get their vehicles inspected.
Depending on the nature of the recall, choosing to ignore the letter could leave owners and others at risk every time the vehicle is used.
Checking vehicle recalls
How do owners know if their used vehicles have an outstanding recall? For used vehicles imported into NZ, the responsibility lies with the overseas manufacturer to address any safety recalls.
However, under NZ consumer law, importers also have some responsibility to ensure their vehicles they sell are safe and fit for purpose.
As part of the pre-sale procedures, dealers should check for any outstanding recalls to ensure every vehicle sold is safe to be operated. For people buying privately, it could be possible that a past recall may have been missed by the previous owner. It’s important to register the change of ownership to ensure the new owner can be contacted with regards to any future recalls.
If owners suspect their vehicles may be affected by a recall, best practice is to contact the vehicle manufacturer/distributor to confirm uncertainties. Some manufacturers have a specific recall checking procedure online, where the chassis or registration number can be entered to obtain outstanding recall information.
The compulsory recall of Takata Alpha airbags ends on 31 December 2019. Owners wanting to find out if their vehicles are affected should visit www.rightcar.govt.nz.