According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), between 1996 and 2013, annual automobile recalls in the U.S. ranged between 10.2 million to 30.8 million. Then came 2016, and a record 53.2 million vehicles recalled—an average of 145,753 per day. Potentially defective Takata airbags were responsible for 29 million of those vehicle recalls.
Yet, about a third of those recalled vehicles remain unrepaired. A report by the Detroit Press recently revealed that about 30 percent of the vehicles on the road in the U.S. today have outstanding recalls on them that have not been fixed, making them potentially dangerous for both drivers and passengers, as well as other vehicles on the road.
30 Percent of Vehicles Under Recall Still Not Repaired
Why haven’t these vehicles been repaired? There are a number of reasons, including:
- Lack of parts—many dealerships have struggled to get replacement Takata airbag inflators in stock, for example, making vehicle owners wait for the supply to catch up with the demand.
- Owners remain unaware that there is an outstanding recall on their vehicles.
- Some dealers sell used cars with open recalls on them.
A number of organizations are working together to try to improve things, and many are starting with consumers. Increasing awareness of the recalls is one of the main goals. Repair estimate company CCC Information services, for example, has partnered with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Honda to notify owners of vehicles under Takata recalls when those vehicles are brought into collision repair shops.
Maryland was recently the first state to receive a grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation to help them alert more owners to recalls needing repairs. They will use the $222,300 to create a program that alerts consumers to open recalls when they register their vehicles. According to the National Safety Council, Kentucky and Florida are also developing their own campaigns to increase awareness of outstanding recalls.
For the most part, however, it falls to the vehicle manufacturers to notify consumers. Many have stepped up their efforts with mailed alerts, ads on social media, and print and radio advertising. Consumers can check their VINs with the NHTSA website to see if their vehicles need fixing.
Many Vehicles Will Have to be Repaired Twice
Sometimes, even after vehicles are repaired, they still remain at risk of defects that may cause injury. In July 2017, “CarAdvice.com” reported that several car manufacturers had admitted to replacing a number of aged Takata airbag inflators with new like-for-like components as an interim measure.
In other words, the new inflators were essentially the same as the old ones, but because they were new, they were believed to be safer than older inflators more vulnerable to instability. This process of using the same type of inflators was used simply because dealerships didn’t have enough of the newly designed inflators to meet the demand.
That means, however, that these consumers will eventually have to get their inflators replaced again, when dealers get in the newly designed inflators. BMW, Lexus, Mazda, Nissan, and Toyota have all confirmed that many of the replacement Takata airbag inflators installed were “new versions with the same risk of degrading.” Manufacturers are responsible for alerting consumers to the need for a second repair.