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After Deadly Auto Defects, It’s Time Consumers Consider Manufacturer Recall History

Over the course of the last couple of years, major car recalls and truck defects have dominated the news. While there is always some risk that any product will contain certain design or manufacturing flaws, the defects that have beset the auto industry speak to deeper, systemic problems.  

After all, both defects existed for more than a decade before the respective companies even acknowledged that a problem existed. Over the course of the decade of lag time, the defects became institutionalized as the parts and processes that led to their existence were expanded to numerous vehicles. In the case of the GM ignition switch defect, more than 30 million vehicles were recalled. The Takata airbag inflator defect affected most popular manufacturers – fourteen in total — resulting in more than 100 million recalled vehicles. Unfortunately, many of the recalled vehicles will remain on roads and highways for years to come as recall compliance rates often leave much to be desired.

Considering Recall History Gives Broad Window Into Auto Manufacturer’s Safety Practices

In light of the recent, serious recalls consumers may be well-served by considering a manufacturer’s recall history before purchasing a used or new vehicle. By considering how likely it is for a vehicle to have more or more recalls, the manufacturer’s response time, and other recall repair factors a consumer can make an informed decision. While past history does not guarantee that a new vehicle will be free from recalls, considering this history will open a window for the consumer to understand the likelihood of such an event.

A recent study conducted and published by utilized recall data culled from National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) recall databases. The study analyzes manufacture vehicle recall rates over the 31-year period from January 1985 to September 2016.  The study found that, over the period, the vehicles manufacturer least likely to have a recall is Porsche (531 recalled cars for every 1,000 cars sold). Other automakers that were unlikely to have recalls for defects included:

  • Mercedes-Benz (624 recalls per 1,000 vehicles)
  • Kia (788/1,000)
  • Tesla (936/1,000)
  • Mazda (955/1,000)

The data also revealed the companies most likely to recall vehicles. A recall rate over 1,000 indicates that vehicles were recalled multiple times. The company at the bottom of the list was Volkswagen with a recall rate of 1,805 recalls per 1,000 vehicles. Other companies that were likely to issue recalls include:

  • Chrysler-Fiat (FCA) (1,422 recalls per 1,000 vehicles)
  • Honda (1,307 recalls per 1,000 vehicles)
  • Hyundai (1,266 recalls per 1,000 vehicles)
  • BMW (1,196 recalls per 1,000 vehicles)

However, merely looking at the incidence of recalls is insufficient to provide a full picture regarding vehicle safety. For instance, while GM ranks relatively well regarding recall rates, recalls for serious safety issues that can cause life-altering injuries or deaths are higher than the industry average. In contrast, Volkswagen has a high incidence of recalls, but these recalls are significantly less likely than the industry average to be serious in nature. In fact, Volkswagen boasts the third-lowest recall rate for defects with consequences that could cause injury, death, accident, or fire.  This may suggest that Volkswagen is more likely to issue recalls for minor issues other manufacturers may leave unaddressed.

…And Also Consider a Company’s Response to Defects and Safety Flaws

While the most important aspect of vehicle safety is preventing defects from existing in the first place, a company’s response time to serious problems ranks a close second. After all, if your vehicle has a serious defect, you will want at problem remedied as quickly as possible. Auto companies that have significant lag time may force you to make difficult decisions like deciding to forego use of your vehicle and renting a replacement.

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Companies that were highly ranked regarding defect repair timeliness include Tesla, Porsche, Jaguar/Land Rover, GM, Nissan, Hyundai, and Chrysler. Other vehicle manufacturers rank below the industry average for recall timeliness. The three companies the study found to rank worse are Toyota, Mitsubishi, and Mazda. Mazda was the only company to have less than 50 percent of recalls conducted in a non-timely manner.

Injured by a Defective Vehicle and Need a Philadelphia Personal Injury Lawyer?

If you have suffered a serious, life-altering injury due to a defective vehicle, a Philadelphia car accident attorney of The Reiff Law Firm may be able to fight for you and hold the auto manufacturer liable for your injuries. To discuss whether your matter is a good fit for settlement negotiations or defective products litigation, call our Philadelphia-based law firm at (215) 709-6940 today.

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