Unfixed Recall Problems Exist In One of Five Vehicles on U.S. Roadways: Report

A new report warns that about 20% of all vehicles on U.S. roadways have been recalled for known safety issues that have gone unaddressed, potentially exposing motorists to serious risks.

The commercial web-based service CARFAX, released an updated report on unfixed vehicle recalls on September 15, finding approximately 55.7 million vehicles in the United States have an open, and unrepaired safety recall issued for defects including rupturing air bag inflators, vehicles catching fire and many other serious and potentially fatal injury hazards.

CARFAX reports unrepaired recalls reached their peak in 2017, at 63 million vehicles, much of which could be traced back to Takata airbag inflator recalls impacting more than 19 auto manufacturers, who collectively make up more than 90% of the U.S. vehicle fleet.

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Rates of unrepaired vehicle recalls declined in 2018 and then again in 2019, reaching 52.7 million. However, annual CARFAX recall data shows there are currently more than 55.7 million recalled vehicles on the road today which haven’t been repaired, and the number of unfixed recall problems has increased by five percent since last year.

Researchers identified California, Texas and Florida as containing the highest amount of vehicles with unrepaired recall issues, accounting for nearly 30% of the nation’s open safety recalls.

General Manager of CARFAX data, Faisal Hasan, stated in the release that open recalls are “a critical issue impacting the safety of everyone on the road.” The company indicated great progress has been made in recent years which can be attributed to increased use of free recall monitoring services and efforts by state motor vehicle departments nationwide.

On August 27, The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced the release of the updated SafeCar app which the agency claims will be a convenient and hassle free resource to notify consumers about recalls or safety problems related to their registered equipment.

The app is supposed to make recall information more readily available, by automatically matching a consumer’s registered products to recalled products listed in the agency’s national database, rather than making consumers search for recalls or waiting for an automaker to mail a notice. The app is designed to send a notification to the user with the recall information, and also relay where the nearest dealerships are located to schedule a repair appointment.

With tens of millions of vehicles being recalled annually, the NHTSA and automobile manufacturers consistently struggle to keep up with repairs. Often, owners may misplace recall notices, or have moved to a different location and never become aware of them.

Used and Pre-Owned Car Concerns

Another major concern of car safety experts is that used and pre-owned cars are allowed to be sold throughout the United States with open recalls.

CARFAX previously reported in October last year that one in six used vehicles for sale in the U.S. contain an open safety recall. Due to their being zero responsibility of repairing an open recall prior to selling the vehicle, purchasers may never realize the vehicle has an unrepaired recall and would not be notified by the manufacturer.

A previous investigation indicated the used car giant, CarMax, of being one of the largest resellers of vehicles with unrepaired safety recalls that pose may serious and life threatening risks to customers and the general public.

Researchers from the California Public Interest Research Group and the Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety Foundation cross checked vehicle identification numbers of vehicles for sale in CarMax lots against a federal database and found more than 10 percent contained at least one unrepaired recall and several vehicles were subject to two or more unrepaired safety recalls

The NHTSA has previously pressed for legislation which would mandate used dealers and rental companies to follow similar protocols a new car dealer would, due to the continuously high number of vehicle recall annually.


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