Edmunds.com Report Finds Serious Flaws in Car Recall Process

Edmunds.com Report Finds Serious Flaws in Car Recall Process

SANTA MONICA, Calif. — May 10, 2012 — Millions of drivers could be endangered by operating vehicles that have been recalled but have not been repaired, reports Edmunds.com, the premier online resource for automotive information. In fact, one study says that there were "at least" 2.7 million vehicles listed for sale last year that still were subject to unfulfilled recalls.

"The current system does not make it easy for car owners — especially used-car owners — to know if their vehicles are up-to-date on recall services," says Edmunds.com Senior Editor John O'Dell. "And since there's only so much the manufacturers can do to reach out to car owners, the responsibility for ensuring that a car has been checked for recalls ultimately rests with individual owners. At the very least, used-car buyers should register their vehicles with the automakers to make sure they're in the loop on any existing or future recalls."

Edmunds.com's report uncovered the following issues in the vehicle recall process:

  • There are no laws that require a car's owner to notify a potential buyer that the car being sold is the subject of a recall.
  • While automakers send multiple letters to owners of affected cars to impress on them the seriousness of a car recall, the letters don't always reach new owners when a car is sold. According to Edmunds.com's research, almost eight percent of letters from two General Motors recalls in 2008 and 2009 have not been delivered for various reasons.
  • An analysis of the two GM recalls examined by Edmunds.com showed a "completion rate" of just 52.5 percent as of December 2011. GM says that its recalls generally reach a completion rate of about 70 percent (no other automaker would provide Edmunds.com with a composite completion rate for their recalls).
  • The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is developing a system that would enable consumers to use the government's Safercar.gov web site to track outstanding recalls through a vehicle identification number (VIN). But an agency spokesman could not tell Edmunds.com when such a system would be available for consumer use.

Edmunds.com launched the car recall report after its online car forum managers noted a wave of users complaining about engine fires in older-model vehicles made by General Motors. Edmunds.com's report found that the fires could be attributed to faulty 3.8-liter V6 engines, which had been under recall since 2009, but many of which had not been repaired. According to reports filed to NHTSA, there have been at least 250 additional engine fires in vehicles involved in the recall since it was announced three years ago. In many cases, the owners of the burned-up cars said that they were not aware that there had been a recall.

Edmunds.com's full report on unrepaired vehicle recalls can be found at http://www.edmunds.com/car-safety/recalled-but-unrepaired-cars-are-a-safety-risk-to-consumers.html.

Vehicle manufacturers often issue their recalls voluntarily, but sometimes the government can order a recall. Edmunds.com outlines each step of the recall process in How NHTSA Gets Cars Recalled at http://www.edmunds.com/car-safety/how-nhtsa-gets-cars-recalled.html.

Edmunds.com also provides a car recall guide at http://www.edmunds.com/car-maintenance/guide-page.html that offers a comprehensive list of active vehicle recalls for every model dating back to 1990. The guide also provides recommended maintenance schedules for each vehicle.

About Edmunds (http://www.edmunds.com/help/about/index.html)

Edmunds.com, the premier online resource for automotive information, launched in 1995 as the first automotive information Web site. Its acclaimed mobile site, Edmunds.com Android App and five-star Edmunds iPhone and iPad apps make car pricing and other research tools available for car shoppers at dealerships and on the go. Its automotive enthusiast web site, InsideLine.com, is the most-read car publication of its kind. Its highly regarded mobile site and iPhone app features the wireless Web's most comprehensive gallery of automotive photos and videos. Edmunds is headquartered in Santa Monica, California, and maintains a satellite office in suburban Detroit. Follow Edmunds.com on Twitter@edmunds and fan Edmunds.com on Facebook.

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