The news and headlines are frequently filled with reports of various cars and trucks being recalled. While this isn't all that unusual – automobiles are recalled quite regularly for one reason or another – you may have noticed that these types of stories are popping up more often than they usually do. This is because 2014 has seen a record-setting number of auto recalls from a number of manufacturers – an estimated 56 million according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). That's about three times more than the projected number of new car and truck purchases in the U.S. this year.
Although recalls are made for different reasons – some not as serious as others – this year has seen several issues and defective auto parts which have been considered a serious threat to public safety. Two recent recalls include:
- Defective Airbags – In the past several months, concerns have increased dramatically over defective airbags. The airbags in question are manufactured by Takata Corporation and have been found to malfunction and explode during deployment, sending shrapnel flying toward vehicle occupants. Several injuries and deaths have been linked to Takata airbags and nearly 7.8 million vehicle recalls. At the end of October, the NHTSA issued a consumer advisory urging vehicle owners with defective airbags to take immediate action.
- Defective Ignition Switches – General Motors has made headlines for some time over their defective ignition switches and their failures to address the issue. The faulty ignition switches have the potential to switch out of the "on" position and into the "accessory" mode, which can cause power to be shut off to a vehicle's engine, power steering, brakes, and airbags. Numerous injuries have been linked to this defect, and GM has officially recognized 32 deaths caused by the defective ignition switch, with figures expected to rise.
Making Sure You're Safe
The serious nature of auto recalls and the many preventable tragedies they cause should make everyone more aware that when automakers issue recalls, they deserve our attention. Here are a few tips to help make sure you and your passengers are safe from recalls:
- Recall Notifications – By law, auto manufacturers are required to alert vehicle owners when there is a safety recall, what the recall involves, and what they can do to get their vehicle serviced. If you own your car or truck, make sure you watch out for these recall notifications – don't just trash them as spam mail. Recall notifications should be clearly marked.
- Look Online – If you haven't received a recall notification, aren't sure if a recall issue has been fixed, or are just generally concerned, you can take measures into your own hands and check online. Safety experts suggest visiting your auto manufacturer's website or, better yet, using the online NHTSA VIN search tool.
- Buying or Renting – Make recall research about any vehicles you're considering buying or renting part of your process. You can check the policies of rental car agencies to see if they rent recalled vehicles or use the NHTSA VIN search before buying or renting any vehicle. If a recall issue hasn't been addressed for a car you plan on buying, you may even be able to use this to negotiate a lower price!
If you have questions about auto recalls, defective products, or your rights after an auto accident, our Houston personal injury lawyers are available to help. Contact Fibich, Leebron, Copeland & Briggs to discuss your case.