PEMBROKE PARK, Fla. – The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports 2014 had the highest number of vehicle recalls in more than three decades.
There were 803 recalls involving 63.9 million vehicles to include two of the largest 10 vehicle recalls in history. Now federal regulators are working to improve recall repair rates.
Just last month, the NHTSA met with automotive industry representatives, safety advocates, researchers, and leading transportation officials to better understand what can be done to increase low recall completion rates.
"Recalls are only successful, and can only save lives if they end up getting the cars fixed, but we know that 20 percent of vehicles that are recalled, and possibly more than that, go unrepaired," said transportation secretary Anthony Foxx. "This is a safety risk to the drivers of those vehicles and all the people they share they share the road with, too."
Some industry analysts call it "recall fatigue."
"Three million cars in Florida have at least one unfixed safety recall," said Chris Basso of CARFAX. "One of the biggest surprises to us, according to our data, one of out every three minivans has an unfixed recall. That is the highest rate of any vehicle type that is out there and those are the vehicles that people are trucking their kids around in every single day, and many of those are potentially ticking time bombs. Another surprise is just how many people don't know there are recalls on their car. They discarded the letter. They never got one because maybe they moved, or just bought the car and were never told."
Plus there are drivers like Renaldo Parker; a father of two, with one on the way. Parker says the family's busy schedule of balancing the demands of work and family life have prevented him from carving out the time necessary to get the recall fixed.
He got a friendly reminder about the open recall on his 2005 Honda Civic from Basso of CARFAX.
That recall is for the Takata faulty air bag. "If you are in an accident and the air bag deploys, the air bag could explode." Basso told a stunned Parker.
Parker turned to his wife and said, "So tomorrow, since I am off, I am going to make sure I do that. Thank you for the information."
At a Hollywood parking lot, Basso ran license plates through the company's free app to locate cars with open recalls and alert drivers to the safety implications of not getting them repaired.
Harry and Mary Smith, married 61 years, asked if we could check their Toyota.
"Your car actually has six recalls on it," said Basso.
"It does?" asked Harry in amazement.
"It does." confirmed Basso.
Basso recommended Smith take the car to Toyota . Manufactures will repair open recalls for free say federal regulators.
"I'm glad we found this out," said Mary.
The app is a helpful tool not just for the car you are driving, but the car you plan on buying.
There's no law prohibiting car dealers from selling recalled used cars to consumers.
"We know that there was more than 300,000 used cars bought and sold here in Florida with an unfixed recall last year," explained Basso.
"You type in your license plate and it does the work for you. If there is a new recall issued on your car in the future, it's going to alert you. You don't have to wait for a notice in the mail, it will tell you right on your mobile device, your phone, if there is a new recall that you need to take action on," explained Basso about the CARFAX app. "And that is the most important thing, is knowing there is a recall so you can take action."
Click here for the CARFAX APP
You can look up recalls by VIN for free at NHTSA's website
or by downloading the Safercar mobile app.
You can also receive NHTSA recall alerts via e-mail.
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