2013 Toyota Pruis C

Manufacturers get away with recalls


Customers don't seem to punish brands or models that have frequent recalls. A recent survey reveals how drivers feel.

The news is filled with vehicle recall announcements every day. It seems as if every manufacturer has recalls on all models. One would think that the stories would be widely ignored, but we at Torque News track what stories readers are most interested in and recall stories are popular. That may be due to the fact that a recall alert on a car you don’t own is just background noise, but on the car you own it is of high importance. Recently, Swapalease, the lease matchmaker company based in Cincinnati Ohio, conducted a survey of hundreds of its customers to determine how they felt about recalls on a specific brand and the results were interesting.

Recalls are conducted by manufacturers as a result of the discovery that something safety related needs to be addressed in a car they made. Warranty has nothing to do with the issue. Any vehicle found to be defective in a way that can cause a safety risk will be recalled – and immediately. Toyota recently settled a suit regarding a delayed recall for billions of dollars. Even brands that build their marketing campaign around safety, like Volvo, have been caught dragging their heels on recalls.

Some recalls might seem almost funny, like the recent Porsche recall for tailpipes that could fall off. This elicits images of the bad old days when cars shed parts and we all thought that was the way it would always be. Other recalls are no laughing matter, like the new Ford Escape being recalled multiple times for risks of fire so severe the manufacturer was actually advising customers to not drive their cars, but to park it and call the dealer to come get the car. There is a point at which a car might be branded a lemon if recalls get too out of hand.

Interestingly, the recall champion of 2012 was Toyota. We find this interesting because Toyota is also the runaway quality champion when it comes to customer surveys like the J.D. Power and Associates Initial Quality Study and Consumer Reports Quality Survey. Toyota also dominates the Kelly Blue Book Resale Value Awards. Given this irony, let’s take a look at the recent Swapalease survey and see how drivers feel about recalls.

Q: Do you feel there are more vehicle recalls today compared with 10 or 20 years ago?

44.3% - Some. It’s somewhat noticeable, but it’s a part of our car culture.
24.8% - About the same. I haven’t noticed a change in volume.
24.3% - Many. It seems like there’s a recall every day now.
6.7% - Other

Q: Do all the recalls today make you nervous about the cars on the road?

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