10 Things You Should Know About Recalls

Posted by: Dan on 25/10/2016

Category: General

10 Things You Should Know About Recalls


Sooner or later, you’ll find that recalls are a reality of your buying experience. While they more often involve electronics or a box of cereal than a vehicle, now and then a car needs to be sent back for a fix.

Many people, once faced with a letter in the mail saying they need to send their vehicle back, often realise they don’t actually know all that much about a process that can feel very mysterious.

With that in mind, here are 10 things you should know about recalls.

1. Recalls are a reality of life

When you discover your car is being recalled, you can be forgiven for saying “Woe is me.” It's just a reality that recalls are going to happen when dealing with manufactured products.

Certainly car manufacturers would like for recalls to never happen, but now and then a process or installation goes wrong, and so bringing all impacted vehicles in for correction is necessary.

2. Recalls can happen with big and small manufacturers

Many Australians place great importance on brand when buying a car. The feeling is that a bigger manufacturer is likely to be more reliable or have more parts available, and so offer a better value overall than a car from a smaller manufacturer.

While there is certainly something to be said for a number of bigger brands that have achieved a great reputation for reliability, recalls can affect manufacturers of any size. It’s also true that when something does go wrong, a recall from a bigger manufacturer impacts far more people overall. So if you’re buying a new car, just be aware that recalls can happen with any make and model of vehicle.

3. They are more common than you think...

With 2.5 million cars in Australia subjected to a safety bulletin between June 2015 and June 2016, the reality is that many Australian cars leave the factory floor with some ongoing issue.

Oftentimes this could just be a minor issue such as a radio not working properly or extra caution on the part of the manufacturer, but since car safety has advanced in leaps and bounds compared to decades gone by, it’s no small issue – and manufacturers should err on the side of caution where this is concerned.

4. ...But they do mean something is wrong

While recalls may be common, they are also serious business. True, often the issue with the car itself is small or repairable, but it’s vital to give the manufacturer the chance to fix your vehicle.

While it can be tempting to think you shouldn’t go through the trouble and inconvenience of returning your car if it’s only for a minor issue, it’s well worth doing so. It ensures the problem gets fixed and won’t turn into a bigger issue later on, and it gives you peace of mind.

5. Failure to comply with the recall can void warranty and insurance

If a recall is just for a minor part or repair, oftentimes a vehicle owner might be inclined to seek out a quick fix with their local mechanic. This feeling is understandable; if your local service centre has the ability and parts on hand, why go through all the trouble of a recall?

But the failure to go through the recall process can have a big impact on the value and expense of your car. Not returning your car in a recall could void its warranty and impact any insurance policy you have. Any attempt to sell it down the line could also be complicated by your need to identify known issues with the car to a future buyer.

6. How you handle the initial process is important

Once the car is back at the factory, it’s the manufacturer's business to fix it. Until that time, how you handle the process is important. To start, take photos of the problem area identified with your car’s recall. After that, take photos of the rest of your car as if you were preparing it for sale.

While a manufacturer is likely to take good care of your vehicle while they repair it, you don’t want it returned with one problem fixed and another one created. Prevent this by taking photos of your car's condition to ensure that you have proof if a new dent or scratch comes with your car upon its return.

7. Remove all personal effects

During the recall process, while the car is being disassembled, it’s easy for your goods to get  lost. From that sports bag in your boot, to the toolkit under your seat, be sure to get all goods out of the car before you send it back for a recall.

While you’re also likely to feel pretty peeved about the whole experience, it’s a nice gesture to give your car a quick vacuum before sending it away. Just because someone in the accounting department forgot to order enough parts for your model doesn't mean the guys on the factory floor should have to pay for it by cleaning up the old bananas skins in your back seat.

8. Keep good documentation along the way

One of the problems with recalls is that once your car is gone to the factory, it can be easy for its progress to get lost among the mass of other cars there. As your mechanic knows, you can’t rush repairs. Some things will just take time.

By keeping good documentation of the day your car was sent away, an expected return date, and all other essential info, it will be much easier to track your car down in the factory later if you do encounter a delay.

9. Arrange for a loaner car (if not offered one)

You may hear the manufacturer say that your car will be back with you in a day or two, but more often than not, repairs (especially when being done across a number of affected vehicles) can balloon out in time frame. Rather than find yourself in this situation, look to arrange a hire car as soon as a recall is announced.

Once you have, talk to the manufacturer or your insurance company to see if you can receive a refund to cover the costs while your car is being repaired.

10. Be ready for a variety of outcomes

Depending on the reasons given for a recall, a variety of options may be presented to you. If it’s just a small fix, you’ll likely have no problem getting your car back relatively quickly. If it’s a bigger problem, you’ll need be prepared to make some decisions. This is particularly true if your car has already been subject to a recall before.

While many people are happy to return a car for recall, and then drive it as normal, others often wish to exchange or return a car once recalled. The fine print of the deal you made when you bought the car will be important here, but usually a manufacturer will make a couple of options available to an impacted owner in the name of customer service.

Dealing with a recall is no fun, but doing so effectively can make the process far less painful. If you find your car is recalled, be sure to follow the instructions of the manufacturer.

Then, keep good documentation along the way, and arrange for a loaner car in the meantime. Do this, and you’ll be sure to find your car back in your garage and on the road before too long.

What experience have you had with recalls? Let us know in the comments below:

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