Lessons to learn from vehicle recalls

Unless you have been on a climbing expedition in Nepal, you can't have missed the news that Toyota has a recall underway for a number of its models.

So what is such big news in that? Well apparently, the devil himself is in danger with this one. It has replaced the weather as a topic of conversation and some learned scribes are firing lines like, "They will have to stop saying they are the best built cars in the world".

Rubbish. These same scribes with their tabloid vox-pop moment would not be aware that there are several car safety recalls underway every day of the year, and many more potentially deadly than this one.

So far this year 10 other car manufacturers have issued recalls, as have three van manufacturers, two motorbike manufacturers, and a bus builder.

Of course the Toyota recall is proper and needs to be done, but it was handled poorly by Toyota Europe who literally dropped Toyota Ireland in it with a lack of notice of the action it was taking.

The facts are that a component manufactured for selected Toyota models (see below ) in the United States was not up to standard and it is now being replaced. And, as I understand it, no Toyota car in Europe has been involved in a serious accident, and nobody has died or been seriously injured on our continent due to this mechanism. I assure you that is not the case in many other recalls.

All car manufacturers have safety recalls, some of them many times in a year. The problem in this country is that some car manufacturers and distributors are not very open about them because of a fear of adverse publicity, preferring to just contact each owner individually.

In the US you will find a page full of them in major Sunday papers, and in the UK they are legally obliged to inform a government body, which in turn publicises them. Perhaps this is a lesson that should be learned from this episode and a new level of openness and public notification should be adhered to by Irish distributors and vehicle manufacturers.

There is a role here for the Irish Government to insist on public announcement of all safety recalls so that motorists are fully informed and this would deliver a level playing field. That way tabloid sensationalism will have no fodder to feed on in this area.

Toyota recall update

To help its customers during the safety recall campaign, Toyota Ireland has added a number of new features to its website www.toyota.ie

The website has a dedicated “frequently asked questions” section which answers many of the questions customers have regarding the recall.

The website also lists all affected and non-affected models. Customers can establish if their cars are affected by the recall by simply entering their vehicles’ registration numbers.

The specific models and production periods which are to be included in the recall due to a potential accelerator pedal issue are as follows:

Model Production Period

Aygo Feb 2005 – Aug. 2009

iQ Nov 2008 – Nov. 2009

Yaris Nov 2005 – Sep. 2009

Auris Feb 2007 – Nov. 2009

Corolla Feb 2008 – Dec. 2009

Verso Feb 2009 – Nov. 2009

Avensis Nov 2008 – July. 2009

Toyota tells us that two of their most popular models, the 1.4 petrol Corolla and 1.4 petrol Auris, are not included in the recall. It also confirms that right-hand drive RAV4 and Aygo manual vehicles are not affected.

 

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