Recall Fatigue Could Prevent Maryland Drivers from Getting Vehicles Repaired

Exploding airbags. Ignition switches turning off without warning. Accelerator pedals sticking. Tires blowing out. The list of automotive safety recalls in recent years seems to go on and on. The problem with Takata airbag inflators, which has impacted millions of cars and 11 automakers, including Honda, BMW and Toyota, is just one in a series of safety recalls in the news this summer.

The Takata airbag recall has been linked to 8 deaths. However, for some, that news is falling on deaf ears. Lawmakers and auto safety advocates are concerned that some consumers are getting sick of hearing about safety recalls—tuning them out and failing to get their vehicles repaired. This poses a danger for everyone on the road, here in Maryland and elsewhere.

Vehicles on safety recall lists that go unrepaired could be serious or fatal auto accidents waiting to happen. In the case of the massive Takata recall, the airbag manufacturer can’t produce as many replacement airbags needed to meet the immediate demand from dealers and consumers. As a result, some consumers are simply hoping for the best and driving their cars with potentially explosive airbags.

Safety advocates believe that a large percentage of vehicles with faulty equipment go unrepaired, due to manufacturers’ and dealers’ inability to notify and bring consumers in for repairs, lack of immediately available replacement equipment (as in the case of the Takata airbags), or simply consumer lack of interest.

How can Maryland drivers know if their vehicles have been part of a safety recall? Manufacturers and dealers typically mail letters to owners whose cars, trucks, SUVs and other vehicles have been recalled. However with used cars, current owners may be harder to track down. Also, dealers should notify customers when they bring their cars in for service whether any service bulletins or safety recalls come up in the computer. That’s how things should work.

But if you want to be proactive about staying informed about your own vehicle and safety recalls, check out these resources:

NHTSA maintains a database where you can search by VIN or by year, make and model.

You can also sign up for NHTSA email alerts.

SaferCar.gov has a Recalls Spotlight detailing trending recalls in the news.

Consumer Affairs lists automotive safety recalls by month.

Our best advice is this: Be proactive and find out if your car is part of a safety recall. If it is, get it fixed. As we know from our work as Maryland car accident attorneys — the road can be dangerous enough. No need to stack the odds against yourself (or your fellow Maryland motorists) by driving around with faulty automotive equipment.

Sources:

The Latest: Senators see ‘recall fatigue’ in car owners
Associated Press, via Yahoo! Finance June 23, 2015

US lawmakers fear car ‘recall fatigue’ over air bag
BBC.com June 25, 2015

US drivers with ‘recall fatigue’ drive dangerous cars despite warnings
The Guardian.com Dec. 17, 2014