Recall Apathy: 45 Million Vehicles Went Unrepaired Between 2013-2015

recall apathy 45 million vehicles went unrepaired between 2013 2015

Drivers saw a tsunami of vehicle recalls in recent years, and many are choosing not to bother getting the fix.

J.D. Power and Associates tapped its SafetyIQ platform to analyze National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) data from 2013 to 2015, and found more than 45 million drivers who didn’t get their recalled vehicles in for repair. The NHTSA can kiss its 100-percent recall completion goal goodbye.

Over the past two decades, 437 million vehicles were recalled in the U.S. — 51 million in 2015 alone. People live busy lives, and many weigh the odds before deciding to accept a fix. The biggest factors affecting completion rates? According to J.D. Power, it’s vehicle age, vehicle type, size of the recall, and recall type.

“The steady surge in recalls, combined with NHTSA’s stated goal of 100-percent recall completion rates have made the number of un-remedied recalls still on the road a critical statistic for automakers and dealers,” said Renee Stephens, J.D. Power’s vice-president of U.S. automotive, in a statement.

Not surprisingly, newer vehicles see the highest completion rates. 2013 to 2017 model year vehicles saw a completion rate of 73 percent, while only 44 percent of 2003 to 2007 vehicles received fixes.

Large/work vans were the most likely to be fixed, with a completion rate of 86 percent, followed by compact premium SUVs at 85 percent. Mid-premium sportscars and large SUVs got the least dealer love. Only 31 percent of 2013–2015 sportscars were fixed, and 33 percent of large SUVs.

Expansive recalls of a million vehicles or more saw the lowest turnout for repairs. Less than half (49 percent) of those vehicles were repaired, compared to 67 percent in the 10,000-vehicles-or-less category. Powertrain issues were the most likely to be fixed (71 percent), followed by brakes (66 percent) and electrical issues (62 percent).

Owners didn’t seem very concerned about airbag issues, though they should be. Only 47 percent of drivers had their airbag issues fixed. Suspension-related recalls didn’t fare much better, with a 48 percent completion rate.

J.D. Power believes the data will help automakers and dealers connect with drivers, hopefully lowering the number of unrepaired vehicles plying our roadways.

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  • Northeaster Northeaster on Jul 29, 2016

    It may not be entirely surprising that so many airbag isssues are uncompleted. Assuming Takata has now recalled roughly 100 million airbags, it's actually somewhat amazing to find they've actually replaced such a large number already. I imagine it is no mean trick to suddenly materialize replacement airbags for roughly 5 or 6 times the number of US auto units sold per year...

  • LTGCGIC LTGCGIC on Jul 30, 2016

    Thus far my recalls have been for things which I have deemed not critical, and for my case, in my regular maintenance/repairs, actually already fixed the real root problem. I've got two old 1998 Lumina LTZs with the 3800 Series 2 in them. Been getting recall cards for the 3800 engine fire issue for the past few years on them. When they were about 10 years old, I noted they both were leaking oil from the valve cover gaskets...I obtained the parts needed and did the repairs myself. Neither leaks a drop of oil even now, and I'm not concerned they'll become a CarBQue along the side of the road. The other strike against me being compelled to take them in was I thought too that the 'fix' for these recalls was never getting to the full root of the problem (excessive oil leaks via the valve cover gaskets or warped plastic valve covers). The first iteration of the recall (2009) was to simply remove the channel that held the front spark plug wires, citing it was collecting oil. As many found out, the 3800 BBQs continued, even on vehicles that had the first recall done, thus a secondary recall being issued, the most recent recall from last year, for this attempt, the engine cover is removed, and you get a new front valve cover and gasket. However, if I were to have gotten a recall for something such as the Takata fragmentation airbags, the car would be taken in as soon as parts were available. Having an airbag that potentially could launch high-speed shrapnel at me is a much more important issue than some leaky valve cover gaskets that per the recall are going to be only half assed fixed, literally - you don't get a rear valve cover/gasket with the latest 3800 recall.

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