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You Can’t Afford to Ignore Car Recalls

Product defects affect just about every industry, but it is especially troubling if your car is recalled as unsafe. A car with a design flaw can be a major danger on the road and can cause serious personal injury or even death in a car accident. Unfortunately, car recalls are widespread and studies suggest that some motorists are not paying as much attention to recalls as they should.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that many motorists and car owners do not keep up to date with car recalls. Some people do not even check recall information when buying a used car. Part of the problem is that it is up to the driver to get repairs completed, and too many drivers simply ignore recalls.

Despite better manufacturing processes, car recalls are still very frequent and very pervasive. In 2008, several models of Ford Motor, Mercury, and Lincoln calls were recalled after a flawed cruise control switch was found to be a hazard. The switch was found to cause fires even when the car was parked and turned off. The recall became one of the largest issued, at about $12 million. The NHTSA has reported that 5 million of the recalled cars are still not repaired and remain on the roads, prompting the NHTSA to make repeated appeals to customers of these cars to seek repairs.

One reason why so many drivers ignore recalls is that we are inundated with them each day. Recalls are issued all the time, and some involve minor issues such as window wipers while others involve life-threatening issues such as the faulty cruise control in the Ford cars. Drivers who have new cars are contacted about recalls but may ignore them. Drivers who own used cars need to do their own research and often fail to do so. The NHTSA has a site (www.nhtsa.gov) listing all recalls. It is a good site to bookmark.

According to the NHSTA only about 30% of recalled child safety seats are repaired or returned, and only 50% of recalled tires are returned or repaired. On general car safety recalls, only 70% of cars are returned or repaired. This means that a significant number of drivers continue to drive with cars, child safety seats, or tires that are known to be unsafe.

In 2008, car makers recalled 14.5 million cars. In 2006, only 11.2 million cars were recalled. While this is still lower than the record set in 2004 (when 30.8 million cars were recalled), the fact is that with so many cars recalled, the numbers of unsafe cars on the road is unacceptably high. Experts at the NHSTA worry that customers are ignoring recalls without fully understanding how these recalls could affect them, their passengers, and others on the road.