Senate Bill Proposes Recall Warning Light on Your Dash

Aaron Cole
by Aaron Cole

Two proposals for reforms to how the U.S. handles safety recalls and penalizes automakers are winding through a Senate committee.

A proposal backed by three Senate Democrats would make automakers include a recall warning light in the dashboard of new cars to notify owners of a safety recall and lift the cap on delayed recall fines and more. A less-aggressive proposal put forward by Republicans would require dealers to notify owners if their cars have been recalled, something most automakers already do but aren’t required by law.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that 25 percent of recalls are never completed.

The Democrat-backed bill may not have life beyond headlines, however. Included in the bill were sweeping proposals to empower NHTSA to expedite recalls, charge and prosecute auto executives for fatal safety flaws and grant NHTSA special investigative powers, according to the Detroit News.

The larger proposal would also require new- and used-car dealers to apply all recalls to vehicles before they’re sold. Currently, dealers are only required to perform recall fixes on cars that haven’t been sold yet.

Some of the measures may have legs beyond the bill’s demise, however. The Democrat proposal includes making mandatory crash avoidance systems and allow NHTSA to investigate people who hack vehicle electronics that could “endanger public safety.”

The Democrat proposal also lifts the 10-year cap on automakers’ responsibilities to pay for or fix defects in their cars. The Republican proposal doesn’t lift that cap.

The recall reforms are partly due to extremely public, and extremely embarrassing, recall issues with General Motors and airbag maker Takata.

Aaron Cole
Aaron Cole

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  • 87 Morgan 87 Morgan on Jul 11, 2015

    Their is a way to solve this issue without the added telematics that would be required. I do not want a car that is linked/synced whatever the term to the mothership, whoever that may be. i would think something as simple as carfax could help with this. My concern is for when I buy the cars used, I want to know if it has any outstanding recalls. Currently I just call whatever dealer franchise, ask for service and give them the VIN. Typically they are happy to help as this is a potential R.O ticket plus it gives me negotiating leverage. If they haven't done th free work, what else have they neglected? On a side note, I too am becoming a bigger and more frequent fan of the LS swap into whatever rig floats your boat. Complete reliability and ability to customize the car/truck to your preference. With the cost of new trucks and cars scratching 50k for anything that I would want, I can certainly build to suit for those dollars.

  • DrGastro997 DrGastro997 on Jul 11, 2015

    Perhaps it is time to remove the name RECALL for cars requiring a relatively minor safety UPDATE. If your car is beyond a minor safety update then perhaps a flickering light in the shape of a lemon on the instrument cluster may be a bit more fitting.

  • Golden2husky Golden2husky on Jul 11, 2015

    Lot of worry from some about privacy concerns due to the wireless communication to the car, and rightly so. Yet so few seem concerned with the real privacy gorilla in the room: The EDR that rats you out. How many times does an insurance adjuster get to snoop in your OBDII port when they are appraising your car after an accident.

  • Lorenzo Lorenzo on Jul 12, 2015

    I can tell you why 25% of recalls aren't "completed". It's because the owners ran into the problem and had it fixed before the recall. That's what happened to my 1965 Impala with the inadequate engine mount on a 283 engine. Mine broke and nearly put me in an accident, before the recall. Instead of paying a dealer $40 to install a metal bracket to prevent the engine from lifting up when the engine mount broke, I paid my mechanic $20 to replace the mount with one from an optional 396 V8 instead of the original 283 engine mount. Much later, I got a recall letter, and threw it away.