By on August 13, 2019

Last week, the Center for Auto Safety announced it had reached out to America’s ride-hailing giants to encourage them to stop allowing drivers to use vehicles under active recalls. The group’s release references a Consumer Reports study from this spring that alleged 1 in 6 automobiles commissioned by Uber and Lyft had unresolved defects in the NYC and Seattle areas.

“Unrepaired recalled vehicles are dangerous and can kill or injure drivers, passengers, bikers, or pedestrians. Exploding Takata airbag inflators which have resulted in at least 24 deaths worldwide, GM ignition switch failures which have resulted in at least 170 deaths in the U.S., and hundreds of other less-publicized defects pose equally significant threats to public safety,” explained the advocacy group. “Yet, recent studies from Consumer Reports and others have found concerning numbers of rideshare vehicles with unrepaired recalls on the Uber and Lyft apps.”

The Center for Auto Safety goes after “so called ‘technology’ companies” pretty hard after that by suggesting they could easily afford to ensure their vehicles are safe, having already convinced Wall Street their organizations are worth billions of dollars.

The group then urges readers to sign its petition to demand the companies take action while providing copies of the letters issued to the CEOs of Uber, Lyft, Juno, and Via. They’re more or less identical, but do include a portion addressing each company’s response to the Consumer Reports study.

Here’s an excerpt from its letter to Uber:

In its response to Consumer Reports’ investigation, Uber claimed that it was blocking vehicles with ‘Do Not Drive’ notices from its app. While a step in the right direction, this action is inadequate because it does nothing about the vast majority of recalled cars that do not receive a ‘Do Not Drive’ designation.

Uber can stop the use of cars with open safety recalls on its platform at the proverbial push of a button. Uber claims to be a sophisticated technology company but, so far, your company has refused to use easy to access technology to decrease the danger of unrepaired recalls to your customers and drivers. At a minimum, Uber should give its customers the choice of whether to ride in a recalled vehicle at the time a driver is assigned.

It’s unclear what action the advocacy group plans to take if the ride-hailing firms don’t give it the response it wants. As for its demands, it urged them to utilize the NHTSA’s SaferCar.gov site to check VINs without providing an ultimatum. But whatever power it manages to wield will likely be dictated by the amount of support it can garner via the petition.

[Image: Jonathan Weiss/Shutterstock]

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57 Comments on “Center for Auto Safety Asks Uber/Lyft to Stop Using Recalled Cars...”


  • avatar
    johnnyz

    What is the likelihood of a Lyft or Uber passenger being involved in a fatal accident caused by a defective airbag?

    I would argue it’s very unlikely. it seems like every time you turn around there is a new government or nonprofit agency trying to compel us to do something.

    If I was a Uber driver I would tell them to f – off.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      The Takata airbag recall is based upon real data – not government bureaucracy. You’re watching too much Fox News.

      Why do you think Honda is desperately trying to contact every single owner of its old cars with recalled airbags? It’s because the probability of an improper deployment/explosion goes up with time, and the results can be deadly.

      The airbag question is a matter of statistics, just like Russian roulette.

      • 0 avatar
        ScarecrowRepair

        Yes, the Takata airbag recall is based on real science, not scary hints.

        35-40 million airbags. 24 deaths. Not even one in a million. There’s the statistics you hinted at.

        • 0 avatar
          Maymar

          Isn’t the Takata airbag recall only applicable in the event of a collision? So for proper statistics, shouldn’t you be quoting the percentage of deaths per Takata deployment? If you are in an accident, it won’t comfort you much that there’s so many defective parts out there.

    • 0 avatar
      indi500fan

      Maybe the feds can deputize recall bounty hunters. They can come up to your car, scan the VIN, and bring up a list of recalls. If you can’t show compliance, they get to tow it to a federal impound lot at your expense.

      • 0 avatar
        SCE to AUX

        You do know that the cost of recalls is borne by the mfr, right? Except for your precious time, they cost the consumer nothing.

        Personally, I’d like to know if the vehicle I’m driving (or my family members) has been updated with all recall work. As I mentioned below, my son’s 11 Sonata has been recalled about 16 times. I’m sure they were all stupid things, and Hyundai just issues recalls at their expense so they get some personal time with their customers.

        • 0 avatar
          NG5

          I’m not siding with the anti-recall sentiment of johnnyz here, but I would like to add that it is NOT in the busy rideshare driver’s economic interest to have their vehicle off the road for any period of working time. This incentive structure cuts against the average consumer of vehicles or rideshare passengers, who don’t want to be turned into hamburger by shrapnel in their vehicle’s airbags.

  • avatar
    Pete Zaitcev

    Enough with this garbage. I was junking more and more recall notices in the recent years, because these recalls are completely senseless, even harmful. No wonder cars has a pile of recalls outstanding. In fact, if people weren’t total lemmings, every car would have them, not just 1 in 6.

    The best course of action would be to stop with the recalls for bad reasons, and only issue recalls for something dangerous… like actual airbags. Skid plates removal – no more of that.

    However, I’m afraid that in the society governed by bureaucrats and judges, the best we can hope to happen is a creation of recall classes. Class 1 recalls would be what recalls used to be, Class 2 recalls are CYA legalism recalls, Class 3 recalls are brake dust and oil dillution recalls. And then journos will post how many Class 1 recalls are outstanding for Uber/Lyft transportation pods.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Recalls are expensive, and mfrs don’t do them just for fun.

      Using your example, oil dilution is very much a safety concern if a soccer mom’s minivan engine locks up in high speed traffic, resulting in a fatal accident.

      You’re looking at recalls the wrong way – without the legal recourse of consumers, mfrs wouldn’t recall anything. I’d rather the mfrs recall products for potential safety issues than just ignore them.

      It’s amusing that consumers think they can out-engineer the OEM mfrs and make their own judgments on safety systems.

      • 0 avatar
        Art Vandelay

        Yeah, I’ll trust the OEMs that brought us the Pinto, Ignition gate, Takata Claimore mines in the wheel, accelerator gate, diesel cheating, Unsafe at any Speed, rolling Explorer’s, the death wobble, exploding Jeeps, Autopilot decapitations and any other number of safety cover-ups and shenanigans.

        • 0 avatar
          NG5

          While a recall isn’t evidence of tremendous competence in the first place, what’s the harm in giving them another chance – especially when it puts the ball in their court regarding liability. They’ll certainly put it in yours if you refuse to bring it in and something goes wrong.

      • 0 avatar
        ToolGuy

        SCE,

        I definitely “out-engineered” the Honda engineers when I epoxy bonded a metal reinforcement to the Odyssey plastic side door handle release mechanism rather than purchase another overpriced piece of under-spec’d plastic with built-in stress risers….

        …but to your point it wasn’t a safety system.

      • 0 avatar
        Pete Zaitcev

        Oil dillution killing a “soccer mom”? Way to overstate the case. Crying wolf is precisely why nobody takes recalls seriously anymore. Like I said, we’re going to need to mark recalls for actually life-threating issues pretty soon.

    • 0 avatar
      b534202

      Yeah, I have this recall on my car:
      https://www.nhtsa.gov/press-releases/consumer-advisory-owners-certain-fiat-chrysler-automobiles-should-stop-using-cruise

      I got another post card about it yesterday. IDGAF about it. So the cancel button might not work (it still works) and I can brake if needed. I’m not wasting a few hours of my life for this. They recall the stupidest things.

      • 0 avatar
        SCE to AUX

        Brilliant.

        The problem is likely a defective brake switch. So just when you expect your car to slow down, it will continue barreling down the off ramp at 70 mph. The recall says you will have to ‘forcefully’ apply the brakes, which means you’ll be fighting the engine until you have the composure to put it into neutral.

        Good luck with that.

        FCA recalls 4.8 million cars for a safety issue, sends you two notices, and you don’t have time for it? I hope your crash doesn’t include other vehicles whose drivers have lawyers that can dig up your willful ignorance of a clear safety warning.

        • 0 avatar
          Pete Zaitcev

          Making a mountain of this molehill is not helping your case.

          • 0 avatar
            SCE to AUX

            @Pete

            A stuck-on cruise control is not fun or safe. I experienced it once (frozen mechanical cable), and in my case the car began accelerating at full throttle on an urban highway. The several seconds it takes to figure out what to do could be the difference between life and death – for many people.

            Molehill, indeed.

            I guess sticking it to the Man is better than getting safety updates – you’ll show them!

        • 0 avatar
          SPPPP

          States with safety inspections should probably withhold the sticker until open safety recalls are performed.

      • 0 avatar
        Roberto Esponja

        b534202, I got it done on my Durango when I had its oil changed, and it only took a few minutes.

  • avatar
    R Henry

    Silly. My car has three outstanding recall notices. Not one is safety related, I couldn’t care less, hate dealing with the service department at my local dealer—frankly, I can’t be bothered.

    The other curious distinction here is that cars used in commerce are somehow more important than cars used privately. Is a paid rider’s life somehow more important than the life of friend riding in your car?

    If there was any logic here, legislation would be implemented to ensure ALL vehicles with safety related recalls be repaired, not just cars engaged in commerce.

    • 0 avatar
      NG5

      Second point is interesting but it may simply be due to the size of the liability that could be addressed by action. Imagine if one family with unrecalled vehicles was known to be driving thousands and thousands of people around. Cost of enforcement of putting the onus on these rideshare companies vs. harm reduction seems easier than making NHTSA track down every vehicle owner in the country and force them to supply maintenance records to the government.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Any used car should be subject to having its recall work performed.

    • 0 avatar
      johnnyz

      Yeah, especially the VW’s where the reprogramming reduce the engine output by 20% or more.

    • 0 avatar
      johnnyz

      Yeah, especially the VW’s where the reprogramming reduce the engine output by 20% or more.

    • 0 avatar
      redgolf

      My 70 year old friend buys nothing but well used cars and is now driving one with a rebuild title, so long as they look pretty, are roomy and he gets a good deal ( in his mind ) ” I don’t tell the wife it’s a rebuilt, she likes it” he says! Thinks anyone buying new is a schmuck, wasting precious dollars when there are so many “good deals” out there! Some people just don’t get it or keep their head in the sand just like when driving and texting – ” won’t happen to me “!!!

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    Yes…get people out of those low mileage used cars…

    And back into half a million mile Crown Vic taxis that have had the check engine light illuminated since Kurt Cobain was still alive.

  • avatar

    Wait,what…
    “GM ignition switch failures which have resulted in at least 170 deaths in the U.S….”
    I thought it was 30-something deaths.

  • avatar
    dwford

    And what of the cars for which the manufacturer has no fix, or no parts available? Should those ride share drivers just become unemployed indefinitely? Should car owners be prohibited from selling or trading the cars? Should dealers be prohibited from reselling them? For how long?

    • 0 avatar
      johnnyz

      Yes, and every single gun sale must have a background check.

      never mind the fact that most of the recent mass shootings were performed by men that passed the background check.

      Most of them smoked weed and most of them drink water.

  • avatar
    JoeBrick

    Was the letter written by Consumer Reports’ VICE PRESIDENT OF ADVOCACY David Friedman ? And if so, what else was he advocating ? Who you should VOTE for ? Don’t laugh ! Consumer Reports urged its readers to vote for Michael Dukakis in 1988- they said it was VERY IMPORTANT, and may have (probably) urged its readers to vote for the democrat in each election since then. UNBIASED my a$$!

    • 0 avatar
      johnnyz

      Yes, I get consumer reports magazine. Not for the Communists consumer Union, but for the reliability surveys which are reliable.

      A few issues back they made a lot of stink about how used car sales should all have the recalls completed before the sale. Sounds like a great way to increase the cost of used cars.

      The consumers Union, consumer reports are a bunch of freaking commies.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        No, CU has consumers as its target. Meaning that they support things that are in the favor of consumers. Not fat cats. And open recalls are a hazard to everyone. By the way, those recalls are free. Man, that’s going to really spike the costs of cars!!!!

        “Commies” Grow up.

        • 0 avatar
          JoeBrick

          @GoldenShowercap- Hiding your head in the sand is not the solution.Are you really blind to “Commies” ?
          Another entitled snowflake lamenting that someone they disagree with is immature. Sound familiar ?

        • 0 avatar
          johnnyz

          forcing used car dealers to have recalls completed, forcing landlords to file lead paint addenda, forcing landlords to submit to City inspections, taking copper out of brake shoes, banning all poultry except for free range chicken, declaring all riparian surfaces governed by the federal government FEMA, army corpse of engineers. Enforcement of flood insurance, mandating fuel economy values, forcing manufacturers to adopt hybrid technology at the expense of na customers, wasting 50% of our police resources on weed enforcement – which is less detrimental than alcohol, enforcing pointless local alcohol policies, prohibiting development of private lands, mandating ethanol, mandating percentages of electric vehicles, scrapping of perfectly good vehicles, prohibition on building permits, pausing vital sewer and water supply lines for new development, mandating green energy, tyranny.

          • 0 avatar
            whynot

            You know you have really gone off the deep end and took a stop into crazy town when of all things you complain about lead paint addendums is second on your list (and first unrelated to topic on hand).

            Seriously- if the requirement to disclose that your property may have lead paint ticks you off that badly I think it is time to step back and actually reevaluate yourself and personal beliefs, and I say that as a conservative myself.

        • 0 avatar
          tomLU86

          GoldenHusky,

          Consumer Reports is not what it used to be. They used to use more data and be more objective. Now their auto tests sound like “Car and Driver” wannabe write-ups.

          Today, they are more interested in preserving their upper-middle class readers and revenue stream, in order to ‘advocate’.

          Some of their ‘advocacy’ I agree with, some I do not.

          They ‘don’t accept advertising’. Yes. But they do accept invitations to automakers test grounds and facilities. What does their car chief (David Champion?) know about auto MANUFACTURING? Does a one-hour tour give him the insights to discern, “yes this will be defect-free”? Please!!!

          Yet CR will rate certain new cars “recommended”, though they have no reliability record, or “not recommended”. Per their whims.

          In the era of the internet and smart phone, CR must compete to keep it’s revenue flowing. As such, it has become INFOTAINMENT, like much of our press.

          Oh, one final note. Their “predicted reliability surveys”. They have been hit or miss. As a kid, in the 1970s, our first car in the US, a 75 Pontiac Ventura, was rated below average. Bought used, my parents had 10 good years.

          2014 Buick Regal, rated highly. Well, it’s had more issues than that old Ventura.

          When I was a subscriber, I owned a Cobalt. CR never sent me a survey. My Cobalt had no issues, yet the survey showed it as below average.

          So, CR is better than nothing, but…buyer beware.

        • 0 avatar
          NG5

          I can’t think of anything less communist than a subscription magazine which provides strategies for wisely spending money on private possessions. Hahaha

  • avatar
    conundrum

    This place seems to be filling up with more right wing nutters every day. Squawk – I’ve got better things to do than get the recalls done on my car, I’m so precious and my time is important to me. Government ruins my life, blah, blah, blah. Never read so much horse manure in my life. Grow up and discharge your adult responsibilities.

    If some yob car company who’d normally run a mile and hide in the bushes rather than spend a dime fixing design or production errors actually gets around to issuing a recall , I get it done. So should the rest of you.

    • 0 avatar
      JoeBrick

      @commundrum- “This place seems to be filling up with more right wing nutters every day. Squawk – I’ve got better things to do than get the recalls done on my car, I’m so precious and my time is important to me. Government ruins my life, blah, blah, blah. Never read so much horse manure in my life. Grow up and discharge your adult responsibilities.”

      Well, aren’t YOU a bright ray of sunshine ? So. you prefer left-leaning echo chambers ? Thought so. And you sure assume a lot for being such a know-it-all.

    • 0 avatar
      CaddyDaddy

      conundrum Go to Jalopnik – They have puppies, hot cocoa, walls are padded, and counseling is available. It will be your safe space.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      @conundrum: Well said. And I vote R.

      My son’s 11 Sonata has been recalled about 16 times – no joke. Maybe he’d be better off with potential loss of power steering, stuck cruise control because the brake switch failed, or corroded control arms. Then when something happens, he’s have no recourse because the mfr wasn’t forced to issue recalls. That’s the deregulated world this crowd seems to want.

      • 0 avatar
        johnnyz

        Several points, over-regulation creates problems and useless bureaucrats.

        Placing a larger burden on Uber and used car sales will only increase costs.

        At least half of recalls are for insignificant reasons. like vaccines, the concept of a mandatory recall – vaccine comes into question.

        You are a sovereign being and entitled to your own destiny. Government interference should not interfere with that quest.

        • 0 avatar
          SCE to AUX

          “over-regulation creates problems and useless bureaucrats”

          No argument there. But many recalls are voluntary, because the mfr discovers a design error or mfg error that needs to be corrected.

          But go ahead and ignore them all, because you’ll teach them a lesson.

          Yes, this discussion is similar to the national one about vaccines. Ignoring the benefits of vaccines is even more stupid.

    • 0 avatar
      whynot

      I too have noticed how TTAC has been filling up with more and more cornflakes.

      • 0 avatar
        jack4x

        Of all the hills to die on, being mad that your Uber might have had some unnecessary (in your our-so-learned opinion) recalls is really a strange one. “Yes, this country gives me the freedom to die in someone else’s poorly maintained vehicle if I [email protected] well please!!!”

        I’m an engineer in the auto industry. Recalls aren’t issued lightly, as they represent a significant cost to the manufacturer. Rest assured that people with actual knowledge of the potential issues have spent more time than you in considering what is safe and what isn’t.

        If you don’t want to complete them on your personal vehicle, fine. I sympathize in advance for your family that you put at risk unnecessarily. But once you use your car for a business purpose, and interact with the public, your rights change, because it’s no longer just your life at risk.

        Accuse me all you want of being a left-wing nut job. I’m generally skeptical of government and I come to this site because it’s usually a breath of fresh air from other, more agenda driven sites. But at some point this just becomes ridiculous.

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    Inexplicably the safety poobahs continue to buy Ford’s contention that your car slipping into neutral at highway speed is not a safety issue.

  • avatar

    I have an idea for AOC, her fans and her admirers in state of California: recall all ICE cars to replace IC engines with electric motors and fuel tanks with batteries. Because ICEs are dangerous for environment and the planet as the whole. And please ground all non-electric airplanes too, including military ones. Well, same applies to rockets and ships.

    • 0 avatar
      JoeBrick

      @ILO- Careful, or you will be accused of being an immature irresponsible right-wing nutter. I think that may be a Canadian expression of derision.
      You know, like “Take off, hoser !”.

  • avatar
    Lokki

    While I understand that Center for Auto Safety only has best interest of Americans at heart I sometimes wonder about their understanding of probability. It is unquestionably true that 24 people have died in accidents where their death has been officially attributed to failed Takata airbags as of 29 March 2019
    https://www.latimes.com/business/autos/la-fi-hy-takata-air-bag-death-20190329-story.html

    However I note that the figure of 24 deaths by March 2019 matches the number (24) given in this article of 28 February 2018 which lists the years and models of cars in which the Takata-related deaths occurred. It seems safe to me to assume that the 24 deaths as of March 2019 are the same deaths listed in the February 2018 article. Note 1: for some reasons I find it interesting that 6 of the 24 deaths (25%) occurred in Malaysia. One accident is from Australia. The list indicates thus that 19 of the 26 accidents occurred in the U.S. Note 2: Between 2008 and 2018 some 300 Americans have died from being struck by lightning.
    https://www.newsomelaw.com/faqs/how-many-deaths-and-injuries-were-caused-by-the-takata-airbags/
    https://www.weather.gov/safety/lightning-fatalities18

    The National Safety Counsel says that (by their best estimate 40,000 traffic deaths occurred in the U.S. in 2018; the latest year for which I can find data.
    https://www.nsc.org/road-safety/safety-topics/fatality-estimates

    19 deaths of 40,000 is roughly 0.000475 percent. But wait! That is using the statistics for only one year and only for deaths in the U.S. while the Takata related deaths are apparently reported for world-wide deaths, and for accidents occurring since 2003. I don’t think my calculator will support the calculation necessary to estimate the percentage of Takata-related deaths among all traffic deaths world-wide over a period 16 years but we can safely assume that it will fall at least four decimal points to the right of the decimal point. But wait! Most Uber passengers ride in the rear seat of the vehicle and in a huge percentage of vehicles the accident performance of the airbags is irrelevant to rear seat passengers…

    So – on an objective level – [strike]The Center For Auto Safety Is full of shit[/strike]. The concern of The Center For Auto Safety is over-concerned with a problem which has a low probability

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    Uber and Lyft don’t own the cars; individual drivers do, so that makes it a challenge for the services.

  • avatar
    SilverCoupe

    I normally do get all recalls taken care of, but when my ’01 Audi TT was recalled in order to get an ugly rear spoiler added because it was otherwise potentially unstable at speeds over 135 mph, I did ask myself how often I would be driving the little four cylinder over 135 on the roads of the United States. I refused to have it done. The recall stayed on the books for the ten years I owned the car. I do not know what later owners did.

  • avatar
    Maymar

    I wonder if there’s a ton of people here who’re also super pissed off about the 737 MAX grounding too.

    At best, I could see the argument for giving passengers the option to opt out of being offered rides in vehicles with outstanding recalls (as they have the right to gauge their own risk assessment, rather than trust the driver’s judgement). But Silicon Valley rarely demonstrates they’ll do anything resembling the right thing without being legally compelled to do so.


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