Car Advice

Car recalls explained

Manufacturer safety car recalls can affect hundreds of thousands of cars around the world, so, should you be concerned if your car is recalled?

CAR RECALLS. EVERY year, car manufacturers issue safety recalls for thousands and thousands, and sometimes even hundreds of thousands of cars. And while many car recalls affect only overseas models, increasingly Australian-delivered cars are being caught up.

More often than not, the problem the car is being recalled to rectify is safety related and so it’s vital, that if you do receive a recall notice in the letterbox that you follow the instructions contained within the letter and get the issue seen to immediately.

So, should you be worried if you receive a recall notice for your vehicle? The short answer is no, but, as mentioned above you should make an appointment with your local dealer to get the issue sorted as soon as possible. Most car safety recalls are for very minor issues that won’t have a catastrophic affect on your vehicle, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore them…

Although, that said, some small issues can have huge consequences. For instance, a recall of the Jeep Grand Cherokee relating to its sun visor is back under investigation in the US. Last year (2014) both the Grand Cherokee and Dodge Durango were recalled in that country over an improperly fixed screw holding up the sun visor; the wire for the lamp in the vanity mirror was able to rub against said screw leading to a potential short circuit and fire hazzard. At the time, FCA recalled almost 900,000 units and fitted a plastic spacer, that was after 62 short circuits, 38 fires and three injuries were reported. The fix seemed to work…

However, the National Highway Transport and Safety Association in the US has received eight more reports recently about short circuits causing fires and it looks likely another recall will be issued to have a fuse installed to prevent the short circuit from happening again.

While the above sounds pretty extreme, only a handful of cars were affected and FCA jumped on the issue immediately, but that doesn’t mean you should ever delay when you receive a recall notice, no matter how seemingly innocent the issue seems. Should you fail to act on the recall, well, one you’re risking your own safety and the safety of those around you, but you’re also risking affecting the value of your car should you choose to sell it without the recall work having been performed.

Car recalls, as you can imagine, can be ridiculously expensive for manufacturers both in terms of potential damage to reputation and the cost of actually carrying out the work and supplying new parts, etc. One lucky escape for Suzuki recently saw it’s new Celerio recalled before the car had gone on-sale in Australia, so, there was no local recall announcement needed, rather the company simply held off the local on-sale date. What was the issue? Well, it’s hard to determine the nitty gritty of the problem because Suzuki Australia kept quiet… In the UK, however, where the issue was brought to light by What Car? after its journalists performed emergency stops from speed on two Celerios and both had their brakes fail, the company remained as transparent as possible.

The car had been on-sale for two weeks at the time the issue was brought to light and Suzuki UK immediately flew engineers from Japan to discuss the issues with journalists and replicate the fault, which they did. All right-hand built cars were grounded, with letters sent to owners requesting them not to drive them until the solution had been determined. An issue was discovered with the brake release mechanism; it was a 30min fix.

While you won’t usually receive compensation for recall work being completed on your vehicle, all of the work and necessary parts should be performed/supplied free of charge. If you’ve had your vehicle serviced by an independent mechanic after the end of the initial service period then you’ll have to go back to the main dealership to have the recall work performed… your around-the-corner mechanic can’t do it.

Ultimately a car recall isn’t a terribly serious issue, with only a small number of cars being recalled actually affected by the ‘issue’. That said, it pays to be vigilant and if you do receive a recall notice then don’t ignore it, act on it.

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5 years ago

I don’t know granted some recalls are serious but there appear to be a rush of recalls for small inconsequential issue that a cynical mind might suggest do no harm to reputation (and may even enhance it) that they serve to repatriate vehicle service work back to the dealer network. Some of these recalls would run at a profit.

Darren Oshea
Darren Oshea
5 years ago

we actually had an issue, where our 2009 dodge journey just stopped working. We had dreadful experience with the dealer, we were told it was the alternator and didnt hear anything back from them for about 8 days with multiple calls with no response. Finally after we escalated to the dealership management we were told it was the wireless communicator and would cost $500. We were okay with that , but then 15 minutes later we were called back and told that the part had to be ordered from the US and would cost $1500. We were not happy with this , so we did a google search and found the recall. We rang Dodge head office and confirmed. Next thing we know it was fixed within 2 days at no charge. A really good result.
But it makes you wonder , why didnt the registered Dodge servicer know bout the recall? And how many others had not been aware of the recall and had to fork our their hard earned money? Dodge should do an Audit of their dealerships to see if the recalled part had been sold /installed to others rather than under the recall. Potentially a dodgy dealer could be scamming Dodge owners and also Dodge by double charging as a warranty fix.

5 years ago
Reply to  Darren Oshea

HI Darren, I’m glad the situation was resolved, but you’re right about recalls. We’re currently discussing with the ACCC what ‘real’ onus there is on dealers to contact owners, and what responsibility lies with the owner to have the recall work performed… Let you know what we learn. Isaac

Isaac Bober

Isaac Bober