On notice: Vehicle recalls
Some car brands are more open than others; some owners are in the dark
AUSTRALIA is on track to post a record number of vehicle recalls this year. It has already eclipsed a 10-year high.
In 2004, about 776,000 cars were recalled — so far this year, the figure is more than 800,000 and looks certain to surpass the 855,000 in 2001.
So are cars becoming less reliable or are manufacturers more concerned about being sued for negligence, and so being more open about problems with their vehicles?
The answer to both questions is yes.
As car companies drive down costs, they outsource more parts that can be bought more cheaply due to global economies of scale.
For example Japanese company Takata makes airbags for most leading car brands. But when something goes wrong, it’s monumental.
There is currently a global recall of 16 million cars from nine brands — including about 100,000 in Australia — because Takata airbags could inflate with excessive force and potentially spray shrapnel at occupants. So far, the fault has been linked to at least four deaths in the US.
General Motors, meanwhile, recalled 2.6 million cars in North America because of a faulty ignition switch that could turn off the engine and disable the airbags. So far the fault has been linked to at least 27 deaths in the US, according to Reuters.
US authorities found General Motors executives hid the fault for almost 10 years. Senior staff involved in the scandal have since been sacked.
Recalls are in the spotlight in Australia because Holden — possibly spurred by the investigation into the parent company’s handling of the ignition switch recall — has been more open than it might