What's With All the Auto Recalls?

iStock_000046260854_LargeLately, it seems the issue of recalls in the automobile industry, once a seemingly rare phenomenon, has become permanent piece of everyday news. In January, Honda, Toyota, and Chrysler alone are responsible for the recall of 2.2 million vehicles that weren’t properly fixed in previous recalls.

In an interview with Boston NPR Station Here and Now, Paul Eisenstein, Chief editor of the automobile news site The Detroit Bureau, suggests that generally speaking, car quality is actually better than ever. He says that the main factors contributing to the ubiquitous presence of car recall news may be that companies are now producing more automobiles than ever before, and government regulation and standards for production are stricter, so the industry is simply getting away with less. Many auto manufacturers are also making heavily overdue recalls on older vehicles with malfunctions that they neglected to properly asses following the time afterthey were newly introduced.

One such example of a newly implemented standard increase: automakers now have to alert the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration of recurring complaints from consumers sooner than they did previously. The NHTSA’s early involvement may fuel more frequent investigations, which result in more recalls.

Eisenstein also noted cars today have many more functions and extras than cars of the past. He cites this increased automobile complexity as another factor, as the precise manufacturing required to produce many vehicles leaves considerably more room for manufacturing complications.

The Wall Street Journal suggests the high frequency and number of recalls may in part be attributable to automakers taking a more cautionary response due to hefty recall lawsuits and heavy scrutiny by the media, and may recall vehicles even if there is a low likelihood of car malfunction.

Anyone seeking financial compensation for a recalled or simply malfunctioning vehicle should consult their state’s Lemon Laws. In the state of California, if your car is still under warranty, if you’ve taken in your car to be repaired for the same problem more than 4 times, and if your car has been inoperable for 40 days, you may be entitled to compensation even if your vehicle hasn’t been recalled.

If you are unsure if your car has been recalled, visit safecar.gov.


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