Safety, quality stands out
CARS have never been safer or of better quality, despite recent voluntary recalls for 20,000 Toyotas.
Over the past decade, there has been an average of about 145 recalls a year for vehicles and parts, with 138 last year.
So far this year, there have only been 46, according to the Department of Infrastructure and Transport, which monitors recalls for the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.
The lowest number of recalls on record is 18, in 1986.
But a departmental spokesman says this does not mean cars were safer in the ’80s.
Instead, he says manufacturers are now more responsive to customer complaints.
‘‘Recall action by a vehicle manufacturer does not necessarily indicate that the product is defective,’’ he says.
‘‘Many recalls are for inspection only and so they are precautionary in nature.
‘‘It would be undesirable if vehicle recall campaigns were seen in a negative light. Recalls should be viewed as manufacturers doing the right thing and responding to issues that have emerged since vehicles went to market.’’
Chrysler, Ford, Mercedes-Benz and Toyota have the most recalls with three each this year followed by Audi, BMW, Rolls-Royce, Peugeot, Porsche and Suzuki with two. Fiat, Jaguar, Renault and Subaru have none.
Recalls range from serious problems such as fuel leaks that could cause vehicles to explode, to a recent recall by Audi for a faulty glass sunroof in its Q5 that could shatter under minus-20C temperatures, even though such temperatures are rare in Australia.
Safety recalls in Australia are the responsibility of the manufacturer or importer, not the government.
The departmental spokesman says manufacturers always ‘‘consider their recall obligations seriously and undertake the appropriate action to comply with legislative requirements’’.
‘‘Accordingly, there has never been a mandatory recall for vehicles of Australia,’’ he says.
Vehicle safety standards have improved significantly in recent decades with the latest Monash University Accident Research Centre’s study research of real world accidents in Australia and New Zealand finding 29 vehicles scored top safety ratings.
This compares with 19 last year and none in the first survey 20 years ago.
Safety standards have also been raised in recent years by the introduction of major new regulatory standards, the departmental spokesman says.
These include: Australian Design Rules for dynamic side impact occu- pant protection in 1999 and offset frontal impact occupant protection in 2000; the promotion of ‘‘crashworthiness’’ and advanced safety features through the Australasian New Car Assessment Program and the state auto clubs’ Used Car Safety Ratings; and the Australian Government mandate for electronic stability control for new model passenger vehicles last year.
Manufacturers are now more responsive to customer complaints