Over the past few years, GM has recalled millions of vehicles with various safety problems. A federal investigation into the recalls found that GM may have known about some of the problems for up to 11 years before warning its customers about the safety hazard and issuing a recall. Similar recalls have taken place due to Takata airbag product issues, which manufactures potentially knew about years before and has resulted in more than 34 million vehicle recalls so far—and is slated to be the biggest in history.
Delayed recalls are unfortunately more common than you would think. Despite real dangers facing motorists, car manufacturers are hesitant to issue recalls due to the cost of repairs and the negative hit to the manufacturer's brand.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is the federal agency responsible for investigating serious safety concerns with automobiles. Its presence acts as a counterbalance to car manufacturers' reluctance to issue recalls. However, the Wall Street Journal recently conducted a study into 279 recalls issued since 2000 and found that the NHTSA is often slow to respond. Those 279 recalls represent 85% of vehicles recalled that were tied to the NHTSA since 2000.
After examining the data, the WSJ found that in over a third of the cases, it took the NHTSA more than a year to begin an investigation after being alerted to possible safety problems. In 10% of the cases, it took the NHTSA more than 2 years to launch an investigation. In the meantime, the American public continued driving unsafe cars not knowing of the dangers associated with faulty parts.
Other Dangerous Delays
The Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards map out minimum performance requirements for parts of vehicles that are most crucial to safe operation, such as brakes, tires, and lighting, or that protect passengers and drivers, such as air bags, safety belts, and child restraints. When a motor vehicle or vehicle part no longer complies with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards or there is a safety-related defect involved, a recall is necessary.
This may include items and parts such as:
- Wiring systems
- Seats and seat backs
- Steering components
- Air bags
- Accelerator controls
Even once the NHTSA has launched an investigation, other factors can delay the investigation before a recall is announced to the public. For example, according to the WSJ data, the NHTSA missed its own internal deadlines for completing the investigation in 70% of the cases. The top official at the NHTSA said that every recall is unique and circumstances can affect the length of an investigation.
If the manufacturer disputes the agency's claims, the recall process can be prolonged. Additionally, even if the manufacturer agrees to a recall, cars can stay on the roads as delays in receiving needed parts slow the repair time. Furthermore, many car owners are never even aware of the recall since the NHTSA only requires manufacturers to send a letter to the last known registered owner. All of this can add up to hundreds of thousands of unsafe cars still on the road.
Don’t Wait to Take Action—Call Arnold & Itkin Today
Delayed recalls should not be taken lightly. If you or a loved one were injured driving a vehicle that has been recalled or is facing investigation for a potential defect and recall, reach out to the advocates at Arnold & Itkin. In the last 5 years, our team has recovered more than $1 billion. You can trust our truck accident lawyers to thoroughly investigate your case and develop the strongest case possible against major manufacturers and automakers. We are not afraid to take on the biggest names in the trucking and auto industry.
Let us begin by investigating the facts in your case and determining if you have a claim against a negligent car manufacturer or part maker. Call us now to set up a free consultation.