Jeff Radebe
2 minute read
19 Jan 2017
5:31 am

Vehicle recalls not always a cause for concern

Jeff Radebe

While recalls are more common than we think, it’s important to note it does not always necessarily mean you should view your car as a death trap.

This week saw the official recall of the Ford Kuga after 47 of them reportedly caught alight, while, last year, 3 million Toyotas were recalled from the South African market due to a faulty airbag, affecting 41 million vehicles across the globe.

Recalls are far more common than we might think. Whether a vehicle is recalled is usually decided on a global level, rather than locally.

More than 50 million vehicles are recalled worldwide every year (or at least since 2014, virtually double the amount of recalls for 2013 and earlier years), and South Africa has also been affected.

Firstly, it’s important to note that a recall does not mean you should view your car as a death trap. The particular vehicle you drive might not even have been affected, even if the brand undergoes recalls.

Moreover, a recall is a precautionary measure and an indication of potential risk of injury or damage, not a given that the car is faulty. They are intended to fix known problems within those vehicles and manufacturers err on the side of caution if they believe a defect of any kind is present.

In fact, manufacturers are usually the first to initiate recalls, most of which are voluntary. That’s because the brands care about their customers’ safety and will go to great lengths to protect them.

In other instances, recalls are negotiated with suppliers by the National Consumer Commission (NCC) or other regulators when a safety issue is identified. This is done to enforce compliance.

The commission may also order a compulsory recall to protect the public – as per section 60(2) of the Consumer Protection Act, issuing a written notice stipulating the manner in which the recall must be conducted. But this is a last resort.

If you are concerned about the vehicle you drive, take it to your dealership or service centre for a thorough examination of the part in question (for example, coolant leaks, an issue for the Kuga).

Should a vehicle be recalled, the owner will receive communication explaining the description of the defect, the risk posed, potential warning signs and how the manufacturer will fix the problem, along with instructions of how to proceed. In most cases, you will be asked to set up a repair appointment with your local dealership.

Manufacturers will try to contact all the possibly affected owners and usually provide contact details for them to also proactively reach out.

Being on the recall list does not mean you are in danger or that your car will experience the issues described, but it’s best not to take a risk. Follow the instructions and take your car to approved service centres.

Consumers who discover a flaw in their vehicle can report it to the NCC, Provincial Consumer Affairs Offices or similar automotive industry bodies.

Recalls are testimony to the dedication automakers undertake to ensure our roads are safe.

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