Don’t Overlook Recalls; It Could Be a Matter of Life and Death

September 6, 2017

Vehicle recalls can be a pain to manage, especially if you are a small fleet. You need to find time to schedule the repair, incur vehicle downtime while the vehicle is at the dealer, and you may need to transfer tools and equipment to other vehicles. Add the potential revenue loss and you will understand why fleet managers dread recalls.

Ignoring recalls can cost your fleet and business in the long run. In severe cases, recalls are a matter of life or death. According to a CNN report, the death toll from General Motors’ flawed ignition switch was tied to at least 100 fatalities. These switches were eventually recalled. Ignoring recalls is serious business.

Recall Volumes Have Reached an All-Time High

According to National Highway Safety Traffic Administration (NHTSA), US recalls hit a record level in 2014 with 803 recalls involving 63.9 million vehicles. That’s a dramatic increase if you think that just ten years before that there were only 16.1 million units marked annually.

In spite of the increase, 25% of recalled automobile repairs are not completed. People tend to disregard recalls, such as windshield wipers that fail to function properly. As a fleet manager, business owner or finance professional, the safety of your employees is your responsibility. By not acting on vehicle recalls, you’re not only potentially endangering the life of your drivers but the future of your business too. Failure to address recalls can result in very costly repairs.

It Can Take Time to Service Repairs

The time needed for repairs depends on when a recall is detected and the size of the fleet. Try to identify the vehicles affected by the notice as early as possible so that you can speed up the service time. Call ahead and ensure parts are pre-ordered. There is often a rush when a recall is announced and parts shortages are common.

Small fleet operators who discover defects later may find long lines at auto repair shops or may have to wait for parts to arrive.

How to Manage Recalls with Minimum Efforts

Here are some actions you can take to ensure that vehicle recalls won’t take a toll on your small fleet:

  • Register the cars with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA.) Every recall notice is made public through the agency. You can either subscribe to their Recall Notification System or manually check the VINs with the Recall Lookup platform. Use the VIN search tool when you receive the recall letter since it can take some time until the vehicle identification number will be loaded into the database.
  • Take the recall letter seriously, regardless of how minor the issue looks and address it as fast as possible. As soon as you confirm it, call the dealer and schedule service.

Once a recall is concluded, record it in your fleet management system or spreadsheet.

Be Proactive

Vehicle recalls should not take you by surprise. As much as vehicle manufacturers try their best to design and build flawless models, errors and defects can happen. It is best to disclose them and correct them, especially in a litigious world.

Technology provides the tools to identify and solve recalls quickly. By adopting a proactive approach to recall management, you can reduce downtime, ensure safe conditions for your drivers and ultimately, reduce recall overhead costs and risks to the business and drivers.