The UK’s Surprising Recall Compliance Solution

One of the largest hurdles to overcoming the vehicle recall crisis facing automakers, dealers and even consumers, is low recall completion rates. There are a multitude of reasons including a lack of parts, overwhelmed shops and, yes, even consumers who dont want to be bothered with taking their vehicle into a dealership.  


Here’s a startling fact that might surprising you about how the issue is addressed across the pond. The United Kingdom is making sure its vehicle owners take recalls seriously. How seriously? An article in The Sun reports that failure to get a recall repaired can land a consumer with a £2,500 pound fine (approximately $3,300) and will invalidate the consumer’s auto insurance! A stiff penalty, indeed. Apparently, UK lawmakers value the public’s safety and are willing to put some teeth behind failure to repair a recall 


At a glance, it appears the UK acknowledges that some of the responsibility needs to fall onto the consumer.  After all, the consumer is in possession of the vehicle requiring the recall repair and, in all probability, has the greatest control over when the repair can be performed.   


The manufacturer and dealer perform the same tasks as US-based dealerships.  This UK measure is all about including the consumer as part of the solution.  Does that sound reasonable and will a similar measure come to the United States? I don’t know. What I do know is that legislators from all areas the United States are getting frustrated with low compliance rates. These completion rates make a bad situation worse as vehicles get older and exchange hands multiple times.  The severity of the recalls are also more lethal, beginning with the Takata air bags, and extending to a range of recalls that make our roads and highways a risk to every life on the road.   


US legislators acknowledge that things are getting worse, not better.  Many legislative ideas are being explored, including prohibiting dealers from selling any used vehicle with an open recall. This legislation, spearheaded by Democratic lawmakersis opposed by both NADA and NIADA.  Both automotive industry organizations dislike the fact that this legislation applies to all recalls – not just safety recalls. In addition, consumers get hurt by lowered trade values, while dealers are hurt by having to ground cars.  


The point is, this is only one of many conversations happening in legislative circlesLawmakers could very easily start to eye this UK program to judge its effectiveness. Certainly, increasing recall compliance will require cooperation from everyone – manufacturers, dealers and consumers. However, right now, all the pressure and consequences are aimed at the pre-sale side of the transactionPerhaps this concept of holding consumers accountable for their vehicles and giving them consequences for failure to get the recall repaired could help increase recall completion rates.  


In my opinion,this is a team effort that requires everyone working together in order to resolve. It will undoubtedly continue for decades to come. As long as recall completion rates remain low, there will continue to be legislative efforts to improve the situation for the safety of everyone.

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