For months this column has been clogged with recall information. I suspect that this pattern will not change anytime soon. Frequently, as a result, I am asked whether this means that today’s cars and trucks are built more carelessly, have more defects, or are just plain worse than their predecessors.
The answer to all three is a resounding NO. Vehicles are actually built better from more substantial and impressive materials than ever before. I can honestly say that there is no such thing as a bad truck, and there are few cars that I would not give a good rating — clearly, some would rank better than others but none are truly bad.
That said, my comment about more recalls may seem odd; but it’s not. Today’s recalls are a reflection of more complex features and the inclusion of software that is not necessarily perfectly tuned the first time but can be easily reprogrammed if a problem is found, the practice of using an ever-shrinking group of suppliers who serve multiple vehicle manufacturers making recalls both broad and deep, and announcing problems much more quickly in the face of a huge outcry by the public. So, take the good (the former and the latter) with the bad (the in-between), be responsible about looking for recall info and getting the repair done — it’s free.
To make that easier than ever, there is now app for finding out if a recalled car or truck has been repaired. It’s about time. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (N.H.T.S.A.) has created a program for using a VIN number to verify this information. The free search tool is available on the website — safercar.gov — as well as on the safercar app for both iPhone and Android devices. Motorcycles are also covered under the new rules.
Recall information will cover the last 15 years, according to a N.H.T.S.A. spokesperson (although dealers are not required to provide free repairs to vehicle that are more than 10 years old), and multiple recalls will be shown if they are on a specific vehicle. That is a major improvement over the previous practice which certainly seemed more random and less accessible. Manufacturers are also being required to provide the VIN tool on their own websites completing the circle.
I see the VIN app as an exceptional way to determine if there could be problems when purchasing a used vehicle, too. If you find, while looking at a vehicle prior to purchase that there are outstanding recalls, you can make it part of the purchase agreement to have them handled or take the vehicle after purchase to have the repairs done yourself at no cost.
So, check it out. Plug in the VIN numbers on vehicles that you already own and get them handled.
Recent recalls in August* — probably not a complete list so use the VIN app or go to safercar.gov to check your car or truck
*recalls listed do not reflect all models for a given year
Buick (2006 – 2007) – driver’s master power window switch may short; (2013 – 2014) front seats may not remain anchored in place; (2011 – 2013) – front turn signal bulbs; (2014) – improperly torqued steering component fasteners
Cadillac (2013 – 2014) – front seats may not remain anchored in place; (2014) – improperly torqued steering component fasteners
Chrysler (2015) 200 may have insufficient weld which might cause rear shocks to detach on one end; (2008 – 2010) – ignition switch may turn off
Chevrolet (2006 – 2007) – driver’s master power window switch may short; (2007 – 2011) – melted fusible link may result in Ford (2012 – 2014) – halfshaft disengagement may result in loss of drive or roll away; (2014) – steering gears missing ball bearings fire; (2014 – 2015) – front seats may not remain anchored in place; (2014) – loss of power steering assist; (2013) – front turn signal bulbs; (2014) – improperly torqued steering component fasteners; (2015) roof rail air bag may puncture during deployment; (2014) – loss of power steering assist
Dodge (2008 – 2010) – ignition switch may turn off
Ford (2012 – 2014) – halfshaft disengagement may result in loss of drive or roll away; Edge (2010 – 2013), Taurus (2011 – 2013) , Flex 3-row (2013 – 2014) – halfshaft retention circlip may move outward and disengage from the linkshaft while driving; (2014) – (2014) steering gears missing ball bearings; (2015) Transit Vans – brake and door issues
GMC (2006 – 2007) – driver’s master power window switch may short; (2007 – 2011) – melted fusible link may result in fire; (2014 – 2015) – front seats may not remain anchored in place; (2015) – roof rail air bag may puncture during deployment
Hyundai ( 2001 – 2006) Santa Fe SUV – replace front coil springs which can rust and crack in cold weather states; (2011) Sonata – break fluid can leak and cause increased stopping distance; (2010 – 2012) – headliner support bracket may cause injury
Izusu (2006 – 2007) – driver’s master power window switch may short
Jaguar (2013 – 2014) – rear brake pipe leaking brake fluid, (2013) – control module calibration software
Jeep (2014) – insufficient weld may cause rear shocks to detach at one end
Land Rover (2010 – 2015) – passenger airbag may be disabled
Lincoln (2012 – 2014) – halfshaft disengagement may result in loss of drive or roll away; (2014) – steering gears missing ball bearings
Mitsubishi (2003 – 2007) – power steering pressure tube may leak due to chafing
Nissan (2014) – problem with rear seat belt weld nut, improper torque on seat belt retractor bolts
Ram 1500 (2014 – 2015) – insufficient weld might cause the rear shocks to detach at one end
Recaro child safety seats (2010 – 2013) ProSport model 385 – problem can cause failure to protect child from contact with inter surfaces of the vehicle
Saab (2005) – passenger side airbag inflator may rupture, (2006 – 2007) – driver’s master power switch may short
Subaru (2003 – 2005) – passenger side airbag inflator may rupture; (2005 -2014) – break lines may fail due to corrosion
Suzuki Kizashi (2010 – 2013) – spiders/webs that can clog the fuel vapor vent hose
Toyota (2014) – transmission shift cable problem may cause rollaway, (2013 – 2014) Toyota Tundra – vehicles modified by Gulf States Toyota with certain vehicle packages may have problems with chrome plated lug nuts on 20″ wheels
Volkswagen (2009), ignition switch may turn off; (2009 – 2014) bubbles in fuel may result in engine stall