Safety Recall Repairs Needed in 47 Million Cars on U.S. Roadways: Report

A new report raises serious safety concerns about tens of millions of vehicles that remain on U.S. roadways and used car lots, with open recall repairs involving potentially dangerous defects.

With auto safety recalls hitting record numbers, sometimes involving problems that manufacturers do not yet have a fix for or sufficient replacement parts to correct, a new report released this week by Carfax estimates that as many as one-in-five vehicles on the road may have open safety issues.

According to a press release issued on February 11, there are an estimated 47 million vehicles in the United States in need of recall repairs, with many of the outstanding issues stemming from concerns about exploding Takata airbags, General Motors ignition switches that may cause vehicles to suddenly shut off and electrical system problems that may make vehicles prone to catch fire.

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The NHTSA estimates that there were 258.5 million vehicles registered in operation in the U.S. during 2015, and throughout the last calendar year, 51 million were recalled for some sort of safety defect.

Carfax estimates in this new report that about 18.5% of vehicles are operating with an open safety recall.

The high number of auto recalls issued last year is a major contributor to the outstanding repairs, following nearly 900 safety problems identified in 2015.

The Carfax report analyzed data from the NHTSA recall records and discovered that the most popular “family-sized” vehicles ranked highest among those with unfixed safety issues. According to the report, one out of every 4.6 minivans have open recalls. SUVs ranked second, with an estimated one out of every 5.1 vehicles containing an unrepaired defect. Cars and trucks ranked just behind minivans and SUVs, with an unrepaired rate of one out of every 5.5 vehicles.

Carfax communications director, Larry Gamache, stated in the newest release that consumers are not helping resolve the repair crisis and are neglecting to contact their dealers to schedule repairs even after receiving recall notices.

Over the years, automobile recalls have generally been recognized by consumers as a low priority matter but are unnecessarily risking their lives and the ones around them by not taking action after being notified.

Kelly Blue Book’s senior director, Karl Brauer, added that in the past, automakers considered a recall relatively successful if half the vehicles affected were repaired. He notes, however that consumers today intentionally neglect to have recall repairs remedied. According to the NHTSA, about 25% of all recalls are left unpaired.

In addition to consumers neglecting recalls, automakers and their suppliers have struggled over the last year to supply repair parts in a timely fashion, such as in the case of the Takata airbag recall.

Those recalls have affected more than 34 million vehicles, due to a risk that the airbags may overinflate in a crash and explode, causing fragments and debris to shoot into the passenger compartment. Hundreds of injuries and at least 10 deaths have already been linked to the exploding airbags, but safety advocates have raised serious concerns about the slow pace of repairs.

The Takata airbag inflator recalls impacted more than a dozen auto manufacturers, and the number of vehicles impacted continues to grow. Earlier this week, Mercedes-Benz announced that it is set to recall almost a million vehicles due to potentially rupturing side airbag inflators.

Gamache is encouraging consumers to be more proactive about having recall repairs fixed and stated that in any given state there are more than 100,000 vehicles with outstanding defects. The NHTSA’s website safecar.gov allows searches for open recalls on vehicles using either make, model, year or VIN. In addition Carfax announced that its myCarfax resource allows individuals to continuously monitor your car and sends alerts to your mobile device when recalls are initiated on it and how to go about having it repaired.

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