Automobile Recall is a process, which involves recalling vehicles that are found to have some manufacturing problems that can result in technical or safety snags. Snags and defects that result in an automobile recall can range from a minor mechanical defect like a malfunctioning door lock or wheel misalignment to major defects such as defective axels or unstable engines. Sometime an auto recall is for a simple and minor error while other recalls are truly safety hazards. All consumers would do well to keep abreast of automobile recalls
Aim of Auto Recalls
The auto recall system aims to eliminate human injuries and property losses caused by automobile problems. This includes maintenance, parts exchange or returning the vehicle. Problems that are noticed in auto design and production process lead to recalls of the same batch and brands. Moreover the auto recall system plays an important role in protecting consumers' rights and interests and improving the quality of automobiles available. It would also help enhance public awareness of the responsibilities of an automobile manufacturer. Good autos recall system goes a long way in promoting a mature consumer oriented industry.
- Recalls incur higher expenses for repairs and technological upgrading. The practice of recall can affect the reputation of the manufacturer's products.
- Redundant administrative departments slow down the practice of a recall system. It is quite difficult to coordinate the departments respectively accountable for production, sales, management, taxation, traffic, insurance and quality monitoring.
Sample automobile recall
Company Name: DaimlerChrysler Corporation
Number of vehicles sold: 41,000
Issue: The bonded disc brake linings can separate from the shoes due to a bonding deficiency, which allows corrosive degradation of the bonded attachment. Separation of disc linings results in an increase in stopping distance. This could lead to a safety hazard.
Remedy: Dealers agreed to replace the front and rear brake linings on vehicles with 15-inch brakes, but replace only the rear brake linings on vehicles with 14-inch brakes because the front linings on these vehicles are riveted.
Automobile recalls are usually done for a single model on a nation wide basis. But in countries the size of the United States, it is undertaken on a regional basis. This is also due to some unique local geographical and weather conditions. In colder states of U.S like Alaska, rock salt is used on the roads. This salt can lead to corrosion in vehicles so a special coating of paint may be required. Similarly in states like Arizona, which have high temperatures other types of problems may arise. But regional auto recalls also have their flip side, which is revealed by the following case study.
Public Citizen and the center for Auto Safety, a voluntary service organization contends that restricting recalls to certain states can harm drivers. That is mainly because many drivers move from one state to another and that some states are often excluded even though they seem to have similar conditions as those that are included in the auto recalls. The case cited here is an auto recall involving Ford Escorts. In hot states, the cars' fuel tanks could crack and lead to fires. although 10 counties in California were included, the county with the Death Valley, one of the hottest places on the planet, was not. The automobile company considered the variations in temperatures within the state and declared it as a cool county. The court cited that if a vehicle has a defect that makes it unsafe, the defect needs to be fixed on all similar vehicles.
The Biggest Recalls
The first biggest automobile recall in history took place in the year 2003 by General Motors Corporation. GM Corporation recalled about 254,000 Saturn L-Series 2000-03 models to correct an engine problem that had led to fires. The cars, equipped with a 2.2-liter engine had their ignition module and spark plugs replaced. GM Corporation notified all the vehicle owners (2,40,000 in U.S.A and 14,000 in Canada) and instructed them to bring the cars to their dealers. GM repaired the cars free of cost and sent out public warnings to drivers that if the vehicle was driven without heeding to the recall there could be further damage to the brakes, fuel system or other components leading to a car fire.
The biggest recall of the year 2004 was by Ford. The company recalled about 474,000 Escape/Maverick sport utility vehicles worldwide because the accelerator cable may have prevented the engine from returning to the idle position, which could increase stopping distance and result in a crash. The vehicles involved in the recall were from the 2002-2004 model years and had 3.0-liter engines.
The other big recall of 2004 was by the Chrysler Group where once again 600,000 2000-2003 Dodge Durango 4x4 SUVs and Dodge Dakota pickup trucks were recalled. This was due to the pressure from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and negative CBS News reports. The recall was to replace front suspension upper ball joints that may be subject to progressive wear and tear.
Automobile recall notice
Automobile recall notices are issued after investigation by the NHTSA (National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration). Consumers address their complaints to NHTSA, who investigate possible design and manufacturing defects in the vehicles. If the manufacturer is found to be at fault, then an automobile recall notice is sent. If the manufacturer notices a defect that occurred during the design or manufacturing process of the vehicle, it may issue a voluntary automobile recall notice to owners of vehicles found to be defective. Dealer service departments undertake the task of getting repairs done free of charge. Though Automobile recall is a well-known phenomenon in western countries especially in USA, it is a relatively new concept in the Asian automobile market. China has become the front-runner of auto recalls when it announced regulations on the recall of flawed automobile products in 2004.