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Are Auto Recalls “The New Normal”?

A wave of major auto recall notices has created a shift in the automotive industry. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has reported that auto manufacturers have issued recalls for more than 37 million vehicles in 2014, far surpassing the previous record of 30.8 million in 2004. The GM auto recalls, including those involving such issues as defective ignition switches and faulty seat brackets, have made up two-thirds of those recall notices. However, nearly every major manufacturer has issued at least one auto recall this year.

GM Auto Recall Grabs Headlines

One of the biggest auto recalls of 2014 involved the GM recall of more than 2 million small cars for defective ignition switches. A design flaw in the switches would cause them to shut off power to the car. The loss of power would lead to the driver losing control of the car and the airbags failing to deploy in a collision. A report from GM attributes 13 deaths and over 50 injuries to the problem, but government agencies and public safety groups estimate the death toll to be at least 100.

Major Manufacturers Affected by Auto Recalls

Although the GM auto recalls have made headlines, nearly every major manufacturer has put out an auto recall notice since January. In June, The NHTSA required that several manufacturers, including Chrysler, Ford, Honda and Toyota, to issue auto recalls due to a flaw in the vehicle’s air bag inflator system. The flaw could force the inflator system to rupture, which would inhibit the air bag from deploying and eject shards of broken material that could cause injury.

Government Crackdowns Lead to Auto Recalls

A major factor in the increasing number of auto recalls is the higher level of oversight by the NHTSA and other government safety agencies. In 2010, executives at Toyota were called to testify before Congress about a flaw in their floor mats that would cause the accelerator pedal to stick to the floor, causing unintended acceleration. This year, the federal government issued a $35 million fine to GM for failing to report the ignition switch problem sooner. This record fine has led manufacturers to risk the bad publicity tied to auto recalls, rather than cover up problems with their vehicles.

Auto Recalls and “The New Normal”

With the increasing complexity of modern vehicles, auto recalls are becoming less of a concern for both buyers and dealers. Michelle Krebs, senior analyst for AutoTrader.com, stated that auto sales were still strong this year, despite the record number of auto recalls. She believes that “recalls are just a part of the business” and that “a lot more can happen” with today’s high-tech cars and trucks. The recalls can also be good news for a dealership’s service department, as the auto recalls have allowed dealers and service technicians to educate drivers on the issues surrounding the defective parts.

Source: The Vindicator

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