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Reeling in Vehicle Recalls

Reeling in Vehicle Recalls

Fleets Need to Make Recall Management a Priority

Author: Greg Miller/Monday, October 17, 2016/Categories: Featured, General

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Managing vehicle recall notifications is serious business. In each case, a specific vehicle issue has been discovered that could affect the safety of the operator, passengers or general public.  Why then, do a considerable number of recalls remain open despite the manufacture’s dire warnings and notifications?  Recall management is a real and growing problem for fleet operators that needs to be addressed as vehicle technology continues to accelerate. 

J.D. Power reports that more than 45 million vehicles recalled between 2013 and 2015 have not been fixed. More concerning is the fact that the number of automotive related recalls is growing annually.   Over the last two decades the number of annual recalls in the U.S. has averaged 22 million.   Last year alone the number was 51 million.  As the numbers grow, so does the frequency of inaction. 

The larger the recall, the more likely it is to not get completed.  J.D. Power found recalls affecting less than 10,000 vehicles have a 67% completion rate compared with only 35% when affecting more than a million vehicles.  The complexity and timeliness of notifying owners along with scheduling and parts availability is cited as the top challenges.   Other major factors affecting completion rates include vehicle age, vehicle type and the nature of the issue being repaired.  Interestingly, recalls issued in the last three years affecting older model vehicles between 2003-07 had completions rates of only 44%.   

Once notified of a potential safety defect or manufacture’s recall the responsibility for following up on completing the repair is with the owner.  The success of managing recalls varies among fleet operators.  Many do not have adequate systems in place to track and insure completions while others delegate responsibility to suppliers without clear expectations or results.  The top four challenges we have seen with fleets managing recalls include:

1-     No centralized notification of recall.  Recall notices from manufactures are often sent to wrong addresses or various company contacts.  Sometimes complicating matters is the lack of communication protocol between FMC’s and company management with limited follow up.   

2-     No tracking of repair completions.  Similar to above, no one is assigned to track notifications received against actual completions.  Responsibilities are unclear with suppliers and FMC’s leading to open ended results.  

3-     No follow up on repair scheduling.  In general dealers are very good about checking for open recalls when vehicles are in for maintenance or repairs.  However, fleets often use third parties for general maintenance that may not have visibility to open recalls.  Dealers may have limited supply of parts or resources to complete repairs, requiring special arrangements or manufacture’s corporate assistance.

4-     Recall complacency.  The increased number of recalls can sometimes overwhelm a fleet manager leading to a “I will get to it later” response.  When dealing with multiple recalls, fleet management will resort to prioritizing by what they think is most critical sometimes leaving decisions to drivers or others with limited information.               

At FleetLogik we proactively monitor our client’s vehicles for potential recalls and campaigns.  We also consider it best practice to open a service request in our fleet management system to insure follow up.  Adopting a fleet KPI that tracks the number open recalls and average number of days open is a good dashboard measurement for all fleets to consider.  Fleets should use their experience with a manufacture’s recall frequency and resolution performance as another indicator of quality when discussing future purchasing decisions.           

Many may not know that owners and fleet operators can subscribe to recall notifications by email on the NHTSA Safercar website.  You can subscribe by vehicle makes and models or a limited number of specific VIN’s.  Larger fleets should occasionally audit for open recalls by groups of similar vehicles or contact their manufacturer’s representative to run open recall reports.    

Make vehicle recall management part of your safety compliance program.    


FleetLogik provides complete fleet management solutions to help your business achieve Excellence in Motion™ and deliver exceptional customer experiences.  Trust our years of specialized fleet management experience to unlock the value of your fleet.   




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