Car Care: Airbag recall - don’t delay
Recalls - Don’t panic but be pro-active
Recalls in the motor industry are nothing new and are the result of quality issues during production that can potentially affect the safety performance of a motor vehicle. They are often contained to one particular vehicle brand and,at times, one model type and are usually instigated because of reported failures once vehicles are in the field and in the hands of individual owners and drivers.
Safety is the key word with all motor vehicle recalls. They are the result of either a failure which has caused a fatality or one which could potentially put occupants and other road users at extreme risk.
It should be remembered, that mass produced motor vehicles are designed to operate in many different countries and in extreme and unusual conditions. As a result, quality issues that turn into global recalls are often precautionary for some countries. New vehicle distributors in NZ are often quoted at the time any recall is announced as saying they have had no reported failures, but want to eliminate all possible risk and check vehicles within a certain production range.
So regardless of whether a particular country or market has actually experienced the reason for the recall or not, all vehicles within the affected production range are recalled, checked and fitted with modified parts as required.
I can say from past experience, the managing of motor vehicle recalls is a huge logistical exercise for any of the new vehicle distributors. Affected vehicles need to be identified, parts have to be ordered and stocked, technical bulletins need to be drawn up for the dealer network and at times training is required for technicians. And then begins the often long and drawn out process of contacting owners of those affected vehicles.
In a perfect world, vehicles would remain with their original owners for ever and those owners would never change address but as we know reality is completely different.
The other challenge for NZ new vehicle distributors is vehicles don’t always stay in their country of first registration. Used imports have flooded our market for many years so the chances of vehicles crossing our borders that need checking is very high.Even when data base checks reveal a particular new vehicle distributor in NZ has not sold any new vehicles in the affected production run, there is no guarantee the same applies for the same make/model of used import.
While they are an unwelcome distraction for new vehicle manufacturer’s representatives around the globe, the wheels tend to turn very quickly and efficiently once a recall is announced by the vehicle manufacturer, as brand protection is vital.
The larger the recall, the longer it takes to round up all the affected vehicles and to carry out the necessary checks and/or fit modified parts. And when outside parts suppliers start providing potentially defective parts to the assembly lines of more than one new vehicle mass manufacturer, the headache of recalling them all grows even bigger.
Any past experience I have had in the recalling of motor vehicles is dwarfed by the recent announcement of the global airbag recall which is reported to affect around 34 million vehicles. In NZ alone the total is reported to be around 50,000.
Yes it’s a biggie, and will take an long time to complete.
The problem relates to the driver and passenger-side airbags which were produced by the Japanese auto parts supplier Takata Corp. In the result of an accident where airbag deployment occurs, the airbags can reportedly rupture and spray metal particles into drivers and front-seat passengers. The defect has caused at least six deaths and more than 100 injuries worldwide (none in NZ that authorities or distributors are aware of).
Honda, Toyota, Nissan and Mazda seem to be the distributors hit the hardest in New Zealand with vehicles produced in the early to mid-2000 appearing to be the main target. It has also been reported that on a global scale other brands such as Mitsubishi, Subaru, Ford, Chrysler, General Motors, Saab and BMW are also affected.
The main message from the Motor Industry Association and other parties on this recall is for owners of affected brands and models not to panic, as they will be contacted over time and their vehicles will be checked.
I have a slightly different view. It’s best in my opinion, that owners find out if their vehicles are part of this campaign or not. If it’s a yes, then the next step may be to inform the new vehicle distributor concerned of any address or ownership change so their data bases can be updated.
From what I have seen to date,Honda NZ have done an excellent job of allowing owners to go on-line and enter their registration or unique Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) to check whether their vehicle is part of this campaign or not. Most other new vehicle distributors also have an on-line procedure that can identify affected vehicles, or owners can ask the question and wait for a reply. Owners can also phone their local franchise dealer and ask them the question.
Being pro-active could mean you move up the waiting list a bit quicker and your vehicle can be checked and fitted with the necessary parts sooner rather than later. If your vehicle has had multiple owners or is a used import, then there is every chance your contact details won’t be on file with the distributor concerned and you will become part of the final mop up.
That’s too long to wait in this case.
If you do receive a call up, take immediate action.