Q: If I get an auto recall notice, do I have to act on it?
Recent advances in automotive technology have brought us self-driving, back-up cameras, and airbag systems. But what if these systems are defective and recalled?
As if an accident is not frightening enough, imagine if—instead of being saved by your airbag—it exploded on impact, sending metal shrapnel shooting throughout the car’s cabin, injuring or killing the occupants. Unfortunately, in the case of some Takata® airbags, this nightmare scenario has reportedly happened multiple times.
Reportedly, the Japanese company, Takata®, used ammonium nitrate to cause what is supposed to be a small, contained explosion that initiates the rapid inflation of its airbags upon impact. Unfortunately, the metal container that houses this reaction can and does explode. Further, ammonium nitrate can deteriorate if exposed to prolonged heat and/or humidity.
In September, 2016, the 11th victim to die from the defective inflators was reportedly driving an older Honda Civic when the airbag deployed. Honda representatives claim multiple recall notices were sent, but she never serviced the vehicle for the airbag repair. The chances of these airbags exploding are estimated at 50%. Close to 100 million vehicles worldwide-- with 69 million in the U.S.—have been recalled as a result of this product defect.
While a Lemon Law attorney can help consumers who buy or lease new vehicles that are then plagued by repeated and unsuccessful repair issues that significantly impact its safety, value and use, lemon law claims must generally be made within the first year or two of purchase or lease. Consumer fraud claims may still be possible on “lemons” beyond that period. But what can be done when an older, pre-owned vehicle is impacted by a recall?
In the case of these auto recalls, the older vehicles may have changed hands multiple times over the years, making it harder for manufacturers to find and reach the current owners. Should manufacturers of recalled vehicles—especially those with a 50% chance of exploding and causing death—have a burden to locate and physically go to the homes of the non-responsive owners about the recall or should measures be in place to take these vehicles off the road or block their license plate or registration renewals until they are repaired?
Although the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration NHTSA doesn’t currently have the legal authority to impose that burden on manufacturers, these are questions being considered by government officials. Lawmakers are considering new legislation approving email and text messaging of notices, but some automakers are already doing that voluntarily. Much needed change in the auto recall notification and enforcement process for highly dangerous recalls will likely be forthcoming.
Auto recall attorney, Timothy Abeel & Associates, serves clients throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania. If you need assistance with either an auto recall matter or think you have a lemon law claim, call for a free consultation at 888-830-1474. You may also visit our website for an extensive list of auto recalls.