TEXAS, USA — We are constantly bombarded with new notices of vehicle recalls. It’s easy to kind of tune out. Patrick Olsen, editor-in-chief at CARFAX, calls that, “recall fatigue."
CARFAX regularly puts out reports about recalls, but Olsen recognized that it is difficult to cut through fatigue and relay the urgency of unfixed recalls.
So, in this year’s report, instead of just publishing the total number of vehicles that manufacturers are calling back so they can apply free fixes, CARFAX “Looked at two specific types: ‘Do not drive’ recalls and ‘park outside’ recalls."
Translation: The worst of the worst notices.
Olsen explained, “Do not drive means literally that the automaker and the federal government say park the car…we’ll get you a tow truck, we’ll tow it to a dealership where they'll fix it for free. For park outside, not only do they not want you to park it inside your garage, they don't want you to park it next to your garage. And if you could, park it far away from any building because the risk of fire is so severe."
Almost 10% of U.S. vehicles with unfixed, serious recalls are in Texas
When CARFAX ran the numbers on those specific serious recalls, “Nationwide, there were 2.5 million of these cars unfixed as of May 1."
That’s not good.
Also bad, “In Texas, which ranks number two in the country, there are 242,000 (unfixed serious recalls from those two categories)."
That is a lot of Texas automobiles with serious problems that have been recalled by manufacturers but are still not repaired. DFW had the fourth most of those dangerous unrepaired recalled autos in the country; 74,000 of them. Houston had 62,000.
And one more bit of bad news: These numbers are likely higher now, because those were the figures as of May 1.
Since then, Olsen said, there have been a lot more of the most serious recalls.
“They've added almost 700,000 more vehicles to that number. So, we're at more than 3.25 million cars out there driving around with these very urgent recalls," said Olsen.
Did you get the notice? Many may not have
Automakers typically mail notifications about these recalls to drivers. Some may not be reading those notices or may be forgetting they received them.
But in some cases, Olsen explained that people may not be getting the notices because they’ve moved several times… or their vehicle has moved around a lot,
“The average age of a car now on U.S. roads is 12.5 years old. So, we're on a second, third, fourth, fifth owner of that car. And that's where it's difficult to track them down," said Olsen.
While many recalls involve new bugs discovered in newer cars, Olsen points out that the increased longevity of autos nowadays is translating into big recalls for older models.
“One of the things we've discovered about recalls is they're very often issued for older cars. In May, there was a recall for BMW vehicles…that went back as far as 2004. There was a big Jeep recall for 200,000 Cherokee SUVs starting in 2014.”
An unrepaired recall could make you financially liable
If you have been notified about a recall, but haven’t taken it in for the fix, beware: You could possibly be liable if there is an accident that in some way involves the recalled issue.
The Insurance Council of Texas, which is an organization representing the insurance industry in the state, says that each claim is decided on its own individual circumstances.
But the ICT confirms that if a vehicle owner is notified about a recall and the issue doesn’t get repaired and is then later related to a claim, an insurer could deny a claim for insurance coverage based on "owner negligence."
A few things every vehicle owner should do
Wouldn't it be great if you could easily check to see if your car has a dangerous defect, or even a less serious one, that could be fixed for free?
CARFAX takes it a step further, allowing you to sign up for alerts for future recalls through the CARFAX Car Care app.
Olsen assures, “It's totally free. You can't buy anything in this app. Plug in your VIN (vehicle identification number) and we will tell you in the future. One year from now…five years from now…for as long as you own the car, if any new recall has been issued, so that you don't have to wonder. If you're the first, second, fourth buyer, it doesn't matter. We can tell you if there's a new recall for your car.”
Just remember if you get that most serious kind of recall notice on an app, or in the mail, or the news, prioritize it. Get it fixed!