Total Recall – no need to panic if your car is ‘recalled’

Our email post-bag received a flurry of queries this week about a recall of Nissan vehicles that got national media attention.

It is a bit alarming to be sure. A problem came to light with the steering wheel mounting on certain models of Qashqai, with one report from Finland about the steering wheel actually coming adrift in the driver’s hand.

The very first thing to say about this is: don’t panic. Vehicle recalls are actually quite common in the motor industry. The car manufacturer, Nissan in this case, is being prudent and cautious in calling its vehicles back for a minor check and possible repair.

Cars have become astonishingly complex. When you consider the engineering, research, technology and skill that goes into a modern car it is amazing that they can be made at all, let alone mass produced at a cost that allows ordinary citizens to buy them.

Many thousands of individual components are assembled on production lines to produce 21st century versions of the extraordinary, transformational product that is the motor car. With all of those moving parts and electronics it is absolutely inevitable that things will go wrong.

Modern cars must meet EU ‘Type Approval’ criteria (or the equivalent elsewhere ). What these rules lay down in tremendous detail are the basic performance and safety characteristics for all cars either manufactured or sold in the EU.

The regulations are so dense and complicated that they would fill volumes of print. They cover everything from the shape of the wing mirrors to crash test performance to the octane rating of the fuel that is used.

Occasionally there will be errors. Certain parts may not perform properly or problems in assembly may only become apparent when the cars are on the road in general use.

When that happens, car makers will issue a recall notice. Sometimes, when the issue is non-urgent, a service bulletin is issued to dealers. This bulletin alerts them that if they see a particular model of car in their garage, they check it for a specific problem and fix it if necessary.

AA patrols, technicians and garage agents also get these bulletins, so they are aware of these specific issues.

If there is the remotest chance of a fault becoming dangerous then manufacturers will call the cars back in for repair. The manufacturer approaches the Department of Transport, who manage the National Vehicle and Driver File. This file contains the full details of every car and driver on the road. The manufacturer outlines their case for a recall and the department provides them with the name and address of every person to whom the affected vehicles are registered. Recall notices are then issued to the owners of affected vehicles, who should then bring their cars to a main dealer to have the work carried out.

This is all very healthy and shows that the system is working. It would be very unfair to think less of Nissan or their products because of it. We would all be much worse off if they did nothing about it.

In this case the models affected are the 2012 versions of the Qashqai and Qashqai+2. Of 51,000 vehicles affected worldwide there are just over 1,100 in Ireland. If you own one, give your dealer a call and they will solve the entire problem for you for free and will probably give you a cup of coffee while you wait.

Ireland does not have a national vehicle recall register, so if you have a query about your car and whether it’s affected by a recall, you should contact the manufacturer’s distributor in Ireland for more information, or failing that give us a call here in the AA.


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