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NHTSA: Don’t ignore safety recalls

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Collision Repair | Education
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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is reminding drivers of the dangers of ignoring safety recalls in an alert that could also apply to collision repairers.

When a car or truck is brought into a shop after a crash, a vehicle identification number (VIN) scan should be conducted to ensure there are no outstanding recall notices on the automobile, particularly ones that might have contributed to the collision.

Guidance on how to respond to a recall notice varies by automaker and situation, but most OEMs recommend that repairs be made at a dealership or by a certified repairer.

New information released by NHTSA shows the number of vehicles recalled increased last year, with 932 safety recalls affecting more than 30.8 million vehicles in the U.S.

The amount of recalls among hybrid and electric vehicles has doubled year over year. In 2021, 19 recalls affected 156,568 vehicles. Last year, 39 recalls affected more than 1.3 million vehicles.

It can be hard for repairers to keep track of all the makes and models under recall, but technicians can do a quick check using NHTSA’s lookup tool to search for open recalls.

NHTSA recently released another tool that collision repairers may find beneficial in communicating open recalls to their collision repair customers.

The tool breaks down all recalls by manufacturer and provides links to the recalls so repairers would be able to check for customers to see if there are any current recalls that need to be taken care of.

NHTSA did not respond to a Repairer Driven News query by deadline to provide guidance on how a repairer who discovers a recall should respond, or what measures they should take if they suspect an open recall contributed to a collision.

Generally speaking, auto techs who have failed to properly address recalls while making repairs have faced lawsuits in the past.

Last September, a Mississippi woman filed suit against Volvo Cars and the dealer that serviced her vehicle, alleging that their negligence led to a “severe life altering accident” in 2021.

The suit alleged that technicians assured the plaintiff that the vehicle was safe to drive when it was not and that they failed to address a seat belt recall that was apparently outside the scope of the work the dealer was asked to perform.

Last June in Texas, a woman claimed a defective Takata airbag inflator allegedly not replaced by Ford or an OEM dealership was at fault for her losing an eye and sustaining other injuries in a June 2020 crash.

The suit alleges that technicians assured the plaintiff that the vehicle was safe to drive when it was not and that they failed to address a seat belt recall that was apparently outside the scope of the work the dealer was asked to perform.

In a press release, NHTSA warned drivers about the dangers of ignoring safety recalls and urged them to have recalled vehicles fixed immediately.

“Just as it’s important to regularly check your smoke alarm batteries or reset your clocks, consumers should also get in the habit of checking for vehicle safety recalls regularly,” said Ann Carlson, acting NHTSA administrator. “Recalls are a serious matter, and having a recalled vehicle repaired as soon as possible could save your life.”

Last month, Honda issued a “do not drive” warning for an estimated 8,200 Hondas and Acuras believed to remain on the roads with unsafe airbags.

The “urgent, lifesaving recall” applies to certain 2001 to 2003 vehicles equipped with unrepaired Takata Alpha driver side bag inflators, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said in a statement.

“These vehicles are 20 to 22 years old now, and they pose a 50% chance of rupturing in even a minor crash,” said Ann Carlson, NHTSA acting administrator. “Don’t gamble with your life or the life of someone you love – schedule your free repair today before it’s too late.”

Takata airbag inflator issues came to light in 2008 and continue today; they have been attributed to at least 23 deaths in the U.S.

More recently, Kia issued a recall for 188,912 of its K5 sedans produced from March 2020 through December 2022 after discovering some side curtain airbags were improperly installed at the assembly plant, leading them to improperly deploy on a crash.

The OEM said affected vehicle owners will receive a notice by mail, and should visit a Kia dealership to have the issue repaired.


Featured image credit: ljubaphoto/iStock

Secondary images: NHTSA

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