When we hear the word 'recall', we envisage the very worst; brake pads shredding in a heartbeat, steering going AWOL or a vehicle spontaneously combusting. Recalls can prove to be a nightmare for vehicle makers too; these corporate giants can be felled by innocuous details such as mere car mats (as you will see).
Recalls can also give fleet managers and financial controllers sleepless nights because of the sheer randomness of a recall notice suddenly appearing in their inbox. After all, any recall-affected vehicle must be fixed as soon as possible due to concerns over driver safety and the potential legal ramifications if the corrective work is not carried out promptly.
Recalling Is Rampant...
… but it's worth bearing in mind that away from the headline 'Sudden, unexpected acceleration saw me mow down my granny!' or 'My supermini burst into flames at Warwick Services!', most recalls are undramatic and humdrum. According to data from the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency and RecallUK, 1,334,525 vehicles were recalled in 2008, 866,089 in 2009 and 999,204 in 2010. If 2010 is a typical year, 45% of all cars leased or sold will be recalled due to a safety issue at some point during their lives. Many vehicle makers will have one or more recalls on the go at any one time.
Recalls Doing The Rounds Now
Searching for recalls reveals that even the most trusted and respected vehicle makers have recalls out. For instance, BMW currently has a global recall in place on 1.3 million of its 5- and 6-series models built between 2003 and 2010 because of a potential battery cover cable issue that could result in the vehicle not starting or even catching fire. The company has also recalled over 30,000 of its Mini Cooper S and John Cooper Works cars due to a water pump issue.
Other vehicle makers with recalls include Vauxhall, which has recalled Corsa Ds built between September 2006 and March 2011; their brake pedal bearings need replacing. Plus Peugeot is recalling certain 207s due to a battery cable problem. Check with your vehicle dealer or lease company for further details.
Revealing The Recalls
If you're leasing your fleet from a company, the onus is on them to contact you as soon as a recall announcement is made by a vehicle maker. Same for the manufacturer if they know your details (they won't if you're leasing through a third party company, though). For extra peace of mind, carry out your own regular searches on your fleet vehicles by heading to the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency's recalls page.
Covering vehicles from cars through to trucks, you can enter the details of a fleet vehicle, including its age, and hit the search option. It will list all the known recalls past and present. Better still, we recommend signing up for automatic email updates on vehicle recalls.
Top Five Biggest Recalls
Some vehicle recalls have rocked vehicle makers to their very foundations:
Why? A faulty switch that operated the cruise control system could potentially set the vehicle on fire even when parked. The headache for Ford was that the component was used across multiple brands and sectors, from cars and SUVs through to trucks.
Why? A humble floor mat could rise off the floor and end up on the throttle with disastrous results...
Why? An ignition fault caused a multitude of problems from steering issues through to outbreaks of fire.
Who? General Motors
Why? Weak engine mounts meant that engines were sliding down on to throttle cables, causing an unexpected and sudden increase in acceleration. Not a good thing when driving a muscle car like a Chevy Camaro...
Who? General Motors
Why? Suspension bolts had a tendency to loosen and, in some cases, drop off and impede the steering mechanism.
Guest Post: James Knight is the fuel management consultant of The Fuelcard Company, the largest commercial reseller of company fuel cards in the UK. You can read more on his expertise in fuel control and solutions on vehicle maintenance by reading Fuel Cards Blog here. You can also find him on Google+ and Twitter.