Jens Nielsen | Driving With Jens
Automotive recalls are defined as a notice of defect or notice of non-compliance, and are issued by vehicle manufacturers when a safety problem is identified on a particular model. Recalls affecting drivers could also include things like tires and child car seats.
Safety-related defects are usually common to a specific group of vehicles. They are generally issues that without warning may pose a safety risk for drivers.
Potential recalls could include:
Steering components that may fail suddenly, causing loss of vehicle control,
Problems with fuel system components that may cause vehicle fires,
Electronic Stability Control (ESC) systems that activate when not required resulting in a loss of vehicle control,
Wiring problems that may lead to a fire or a sudden loss of lighting,
Air bags that deploy when they should not,
Child restraints or car seats with defective harness systems, buckles or components,
Improperly designed or constructed tires that may fail unexpectedly,
Critical components that may fail causing loss of vehicle control, or injury to people inside or outside the vehicle.
All vehicle manufactures have recalls from time to time. Some are minor and others can be very serious. Poor handling of recalls by some manufacturers in the past have proven to be very costly and damaging to company reputations. As a result, manufacturers today seem to err on the side of caution with any potential recalls.
Road safety is a shared responsibility between vehicle manufacturers, Transport Canada and vehicle owners.
According to the requirements of the Motor Vehicle Safety Act:
“Motor vehicle manufacturers are responsible for notifying vehicle owners when a safety-related defect has been identified in one or more of their vehicle models. This notification must be in the form of a Notice of Safety Defect, which is also referred to as a recall notice and which must contain three pieces of information.
“The notice must describe the defect, present an evaluation of the safety risk arising from it, and provide directions on how the defect can be corrected. Usually, the correction consists of a repair that is carried out free of charge by the vehicle manufacturer.”
Vehicle manufacturers get the names and addresses of owners affected by recalls on new vehicles from buyer warranty registrations. Motor vehicle registration records may also be used to help find owners who may have moved and not updated their contact information with their dealer.
Transport Canada is responsible for regulating the safety of the newly manufactured vehicles sold in Canada. Its defect investigations group is mandated under the Motor Vehicle Safety Act to investigate complaints relating to reported manufacturing safety defects:
“Complaints are documented in a database and then reviewed by an experienced analyst. When warranted an investigation will be initiated to further research the problem. During the investigation process we work closely with consumers, dealers, forensic scientists, manufacturers and others to obtain a clear understanding of the problem and the potential risk to safety. At times the investigations may lead to safety recall campaigns or safety advisory publications.”
Transport Canada does not regulate the actions of vehicle owners but does urge vehicle owners to understand their responsibilities and to act on them in a timely manner.
As a vehicle owner you are responsible for helping ensure their own safety, the safety of passengers, and other drivers.
It’s important to keep your contact information updated with your vehicle manufacturer or their local dealership. This ensures they can reach you, and notify you of any potential recalls. Once notified it’s very important to follow the instructions and have the recall completed as soon as possible.
When you are considering buying a used vehicle it’s important for you to know if there are any outstanding recalls on the vehicle and details of any recall. Is the vehicle safe to drive before the recall is performed? How long before the recall can be completed? Is there any cost to the recall? If you’re buying a used vehicle from a reputable car dealership they will likely have already checked this for you. If you are buying a used vehicle in a private sale you can check for recalls with the manufacturer’s local dealership or you can check online yourself.
To check for recalls either at a dealership or online you will need the VIN or vehicle identification number. You can find it near the very bottom of the windshield on the driver’s side or on the door frame.
While there are several different websites offering recall information if you want to check yourself, it’s likely best to just check the road safety recalls database on Transport Canada’s website.
Taking the time to ensure your contact information is up to date and acting on recalls immediately will help ensure road safety for everyone and offer some peace of mind.
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