Recalls increase in Europe as airbag issues come under spotlight

09 May 2017

09 May 2017

Vehicle recalls saw a spike across Europe during the first quarter of 2017, thanks in part to a spate of faulty airbags.

Around 122 recalls were issued in the first three months of the year, up 31% on the fourth quarter of 2016. Faulty airbags, an issue for the industry since faulty units were found at car parts maker Takata, accounted for 41% of these recalls, up from 18% in Q4 2016. Around 80% of these resulted from customers complaining of injury.

Cars built in Germany accounted for 40 of the recalls issued, followed by France with 29 and 14 in the UK. Brands affected included Nissan, Infiniti, Jaguar, Land Rover and Rolls Royce. Audi was another company, the manufacturer recently issued a recall notice following reports of foreign particles blocking coolant pumps, with a software update required to ensure the system can operate properly and prevent such particles entering the system.

The Takata airbag issue has seen 16 fatalities globally. It was found that inflators containing the chemical compound ammonium nitrate were unsafe if used without a drying agent, which would cause them to explode without warning. Japanese manufacturer Toyota has issued a recall of around 3 million vehicles across different continents as a result, while other manufacturers are following suit.

The number of recalls could also suggest that manufacturers are beginning to play it safe when it comes to potential issues. The entire market is still aware of the publicity that a major recall can create, especially in the wake of the Toyota accelerator pedal issues in 2010.

Yet a recent investigation by British publication Auto Express revealed that 47% of drivers have ignored recall notices issued since 2012. It is expected that this means over 1 million vehicles on UK roads are unsafe according to the vehicle manufacturers that built them.

The news comes as vehicle manufacturers are coming under pressure to ensure cars are recalled as soon as possible to avoid further injury. Manufacturer Vauxhall came under fire from the UK’s Transport Committee, which issued a report stating that the company showed a ′reckless disregard for safety’ following a spate of fires affecting its Zafira B model.

Committee chairman Louise Ellman said: ′In this inquiry, we heard how one car manufacturer was too slow to acknowledge drivers’ concerns, too slow to begin an investigation, too slow to address the causes and too slow to alert drivers of real safety concerns. Drivers and their families were needlessly put at risk.

′The current voluntary approach to recalls is not robust enough. The DVSA must be given enforcement powers to compel manufacturers to act should it need to do so. This will ensure that drivers can have full confidence in the recall system.’

Ellman continued: ″Despite Vauxhall blaming the fires on unauthorised repair by third parties, no effort was made to find out where this may have taken place. The DVSA should consider how information to prevent improper and dangerous repairs can be collated for future vehicle safety issues.’


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