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Confused About All The Recalls? You're Not The Only One

May 24, 2010
It's nearly impossible to have missed all the big headlines—of millions of vehicles affected by multiple Toyota recalls in recent months, then Congressional hearings investigating them and, in the aftermath, a movement toward stricter rules and greater openness from a new auto-safety bill.

But the reality is that despite all the media buzz surrounding the biggest recalls—as well as several stop-sales this year for smaller recalls, and a heightened awareness of recalls in general—consumers are still confused about how they can tell which recalls affect their vehicles and how they can ascertain what's serious and what's not.

And, it appears, the public thinks that recalls are a lot less frequent than they really are.

In a new survey, Consumer Reports asked respondents how many recalls were conducted each year. The largest group thought that there had been fewer than ten automotive recalls in the past ten months. Actually, over the past three years there's been an average of 175 recalls annually, including some from nearly every major automaker, CR says.

2010 Lexus GX 460

2010 Lexus GX 460

2007 Infiniti G35 Sedan

2007 Infiniti G35 Sedan

Just over the past several weeks there have been several more high-profile recalls. First, there was the recall of the 2010 Lexus GX 460 for a faulty stability control calibration and then, this past week, a recall of the Lexus LS 460 and LS 600h for a potentially dangerous issue with the steering. Meanwhile, more than 134,000 Infiniti G35 models were recently recalled for an issue that could cause faulty airbag deployment, and just this past week Nissan issued another recall covering many of its trucks for an issue with welding that could potentially affect steering.

CR also asked how consumers prefer to receive recall notification, and the overwhelming preference, at 71 percent, was toward postal mail, while less than ten percent were interested in e-mail or TV/radio broadcasts as a primary method of informing owners.

Despite the lack of awareness regarding about how many recalls there are, when asked where an owner should go to find out whether their vehicle is one affected by a particular recall, consumers gave the best responses, pointing to their car dealer, the automaker itself, or the official NHTSA recall site—which, hopefully, should become a little friendlier to use and more frequently updated with the passage of an auto-safety bill.

[Consumer Reports]

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