The Digital Ride – What Could that Mean for the Future of Recalls?

Today's vehicles have more technology than ever before. With OEMs on a mission to make more EVs; Apple entering the retail automotive space; Tesla continuing its brand popularity; and vehicles more operated by computer than by motor, problems are sure to arise!.


Technicians are already in short supply. Dealers are doing everything that they can to recruit new techs and train them on the job while they rely on their Master Technicians to do the heavy lifting on complex repair orders. The problem is two-fold in this arena. First, Master Technicians are not necessarily trained to handle the intricacies of complex computer language. And second, for those technicians hired for entry-level positions, typically for quick service, it takes quite some time training to get to the level of a Master Technician, in addition to learning the technology side.


To speed up the process, many service departments now search for employees who have service potential along with good computer skills. When you combine an increased demand for consumer service with a lack of technicians available to complete the repair, dealerships may find themselves so backlogged in their service departments that consumers go elsewhere or forego necessary software updates and recall repairs.


New vehicle models will continue to be more reliant on computers and software. The competitiveness of manufacturers, combined with tight deadlines to accomplish environmental goals, may force some of these vehicles to be introduced to the market prematurely. At that point, issues they are not even aware of tend to arise. These issues will invariably translate into recalls. And what is even worse, it is one thing to experience glitches on your home computer or cell phone and quite another to have a vehicle perform unsafely due to faulty software or electronics.


Our industry could easily end up with many vehicles owners cannot drive at all. Or they drive them anyway, knowing they are unsafe and are putting themselves, their passengers, and other drivers at risk. It is already a challenge to get a consumer into the dealership to complete recall repairs. It will be even tougher if we compound the problem with fewer dealerships to get these recalled vehicles repaired due to a lack of shop capacity or technicians trained to handle these technologically advanced repairs.


As a result, this recall crisis is just getting started.  There’s a tsunami of software and electronics recalls that will inundate our industry over the next decade, and likely further into the future as well. While EVs and advanced technology in vehicles may present an advantage to the environment, or increase consumer comfort, we must always remember that no vehicle is perfect, and many have had some sort of recall in their lifespan. By adding software technology and electronic components made of plastic, many dealerships are not yet equipped to keep up with repairs, increasing the danger and threatening the safety of all who share the road.

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