Cars and trucks are a big part of people’s lives. They help us go places, do things, and we depend on them like few other things in our lives. People also tend to love their cars and spend lots of money on them. So when defects – real or perceived – are brought to light, they make news. In the 1960s, Ralph Nader made controversial assertions about the Corvair® that, true or not, helped to bring about its demise. The name Edsel® has become synonymous with design and engineering failures. Everyone of a certain age remembers the Pinto® for its exploding gas tank.
Today’s recall news stories include:
Ignition switches that shut off and disable all the power systems and air bags.
Air bags that deploy with such force as to send metal shards into the passenger compartments.
What is going on with all of these recalls? Has quality really declined that much? Are the problems a result of design… engineering… production? Are vehicles just so complicated that failures are inevitable? Has quality control so improved that more defects are being caught? Is the profit motive driving manufacturers to churn out vehicles at a faster rate?
The answer to all those questions is a resounding yes, no and maybe. While it is essential for manufacturers to understand how each defect occurs, the root cause is less important to collision shop owners, shop managers, estimators, production managers, parts managers or technicians. What is important is how a recall event will affect your shop’s bottom line.
If you repair a vehicle and it is involved in subsequent collision, your shop could be blamed when, in fact, the cause was a known problem under recall. Even if there is no recall, there may be a technical service bulletin out there describing the condition. In a less severe scenario, a customer might come back to the shop, saying you missed something in your repair. Again, the problem may be a prior defect.
Glancing at a list of recalls, you will find a notice for just about every component and system except license plate lamps and floor mats. Oh wait! There actually ARE current recalls issued for license plate lamps that may cause fires and floor mats that may interfere with the accelerator pedal.
This partial sampling of recalls is from several manufacturers:
Water leaks shorting out electrical components
Virtually every electronic system, sensor and module
High voltage disabling in hybrids
Windows and window controls
Headlamps and other exterior lighting
Hood latches and hinges
Seat backrest frames
Mechanical components from axles to windshield wipers
And, of course, air bags, air bags and more air bags!
Not every recall commands news coverage. Here are three excerpts from recall notices that are NOT being widely reported in newspapers or on the nightly news:
Chrysler – Tire Pressure Monitor Control Module Settings
2014 Jeep® Wrangler®
2014 Chrysler® Town & Country® and Dodge® Caravan®
NOTE: This recall applies only to the above vehicles with tire pressure monitoring built from March 20, 2014 through April 22, 2014.
Subject: The Tire Pressure Monitor (TPM) control module on about 10,200 of the above vehicles may have a Tire Pressure Monitor (TPM) control module that was incorrectly set during the manufacturing process. This may result in a false illumination of the TPM warning lamp and/or a false “Low Tire Pressure” warning message to display on the Electronic Vehicle Information Center (EVIC) screen. The TPM system is not performing in the manner designed to meet Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) 138 – Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS).
Incorrect tire pressure monitoring could cause the vehicle operator to drive the vehicle without knowledge of a low tire pressure condition. Driving a vehicle with a low tire pressure condition could cause tire failure and/or crash without warning.
Chrysler – Rear Suspension Shock Absorbers
2014 RAM® Pick Up Truck (1500 series)
2014 Jeep Cherokee®
2015 Chrysler 200® Sedan
NOTE: This recall applies only to the above vehicles built with Hitachi® rear shock absorbers from May 21, 2014 through June 05, 2014.
Subject: The rear suspension shock absorbers on about 20,300 of the above vehicles may break the upper or lower attachment ring. A partially detached rear suspension shock absorber(s) could cause damage to other rear chassis/suspension components, rear brake tube damage and/or damage to the rear tire(s). This could cause a crash without warning.
Hyundai – Sonata Joint Connector Repair
2015 Hyundai® Sonata®
Description: This bulletin provides a service procedure to repair a connector socket for the vehicle’s “CAN bus” (Controller Area Network) circuit in the joint connector located behind the glove box on certain 2015 Sonata (LF) vehicles. If this circuit becomes intermittent or open, symptoms could include illumination of the instrument cluster lamps, inability to remove the vehicle’s shifter from Park position, or a reduction of steering assist from the vehicle’s Motor Driven Power Steering System.
Knowledge is Power
Having the information to counter any claims against your shop is just smart business. With so many active recalls at any given time, it can be challenging to keep up. OEM information is the gold standard for repairs and for protecting your shop’s profitability. Stay up to date and help keep your customers safe.
NOTE: This repair/service information is excerpted from information published by the vehicle manufacturer, and intended for the purpose of promoting OE collision repair information to trained, professional technicians with the knowledge, tools and equipment to do the job properly and safely. Before attempting any repairs described, refer to the complete article in ALLDATA Collision S3500. It is recommended that these procedures not be performed by “do-it-yourselfers.”
Written by members of the ALLDATA Collision Team of Experts.