With more than 50,000 Irish cars about to be recalled to have defective airbags replaced, there’s a pretty good chance that you’re about to get a recall notice in through the letterbox, asking you to visit your local franchised dealer to have a repair and replacement carried out.
Car recalls are a fact of life in the automotive industry, but we still seem to fear and dread them, at least in the media. There is an automatic assumption that recalls are only carried out when there is imminent danger of injury or worse, which is not the case.
What ought I do?
So the first thing to do when the letter arrives on your doormat is not to panic. You’re very unlikely to actually be hurt by anything that’s going on and, yes, that stands true even for the airbag recall that’s happening right now. As it turns out, the defective airbags, made by Takata in Japan, are prone to failure most often in areas of high temperature and humidity, so it’s very unlikely that any Irish driver will ever be directly affected.
Nonetheless, the worst thing you can do is ignore the letter. Recalls cost millions to implement, and one of the great frustrations is an incomplete recall, where cars are left unsorted. It’s not just a problem for the car maker either – incomplete recalls undermine confidence in the whole system, so it’s important to respond and get the work done.
Should l be driving the car?
So – now begins the worry over whether or not to actually drive the car. If it’s being recalled, then it must be for a safety issue and therefore, goes the thought process, maybe I shouldn’t drive the car at all.
It’s an easy worry-trap into which to fall, and one needlessly stoked by certain sections of the media at times, but it’s a silly worry. While it’s true that recalls are only generally issued failures that pose a significant safety risk, the odds of you being hurt while driving the car to the dealership to get it fixed are vanishingly small.
There will also probably be no great rush – in the case of a major international recall such as the Takata airbag one, it takes time to build up the necessary stock of replacement parts, so you’ll have the time to sort out your schedule. Generally try to get an early-morning booking at the dealer though; these things have a habit of taking longer than thought, so you don’t want to be either hanging around in the showroom all day, nor sitting at home by the phone waiting to be given a collection time.
Is there a potential upside?
Mind you, it never hurts to take advantage of the car company at a time like this. You’re in the showroom, after all, and there will be a certain level of face-saving going on, so why not take the opportunity for a leisurely test drive in something new? You might even find something you like and certainly that will be the hope of the car maker – looking for a silver lining in the recall cloud.
What about the value of my car?
The single most important aspect here though is resale value, and this brings us back to the advice not to ignore the recall notice. Second hand car buyers, thanks it must be said to the efforts of Motorcheck and those like us, have become amazingly well informed now, and will have researched very carefully any potential faults or common failings in the car they’re considering buying. Any advice on that subject will almost certainty have flagged up major recalls that should be been carried out, so not only should you be making sure that you’ve responded to the notice, you should also be gathering receipts and any confirmation of completed work, and sticking it in with your service history book. There’s nothing that will damage the resale value of your car faster than an unfulfilled recall.
What will it cost me?
Once all that’s done, you can relax. Recalls are never charged to the customer, so there’ll be no cost to you at the point of repair and you can roll home safe in the knowledge that your car has been returned to factory standard.
At least until the next big recall kicks off…