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Transportation & Infrastructure

Why some vehicle owners ignore recall notices

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About twenty percent of vehicle owners don't get the repairs called for in safety recall notices, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

A recent, online, national survey from the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute explored some of the reasons why and suggested some possible solutions.

The analysis of the survey cited the three most frequently mentioned concerns that deter owners from getting their vehicles fixed:

  • Worry that the dealership will try to sell additional repairs during the recall repair visit 
  • Hardship of being without the vehicle while it is in the shop
  • The wait to get it fixed is too long

The longer the owner has to wait for the repair, the chances of getting it done goes down. Survey respondents were 2.7 times more likely to get the defect corrected if wait time before the repair was one week or less, compared to 6 months or more.
About half of those surveyed said incentives like a free oil change could increase compliance, as could the ability to combine a recall with a regularly scheduled visit. Over 40 percent said they'd be more likely to respond to a recall notice if they could go to their own mechanic or repair shop, instead of a dealership.

Not surprisingly, respondents were 3.1 times more likely to get a defect corrected for a high-risk recall than a low risk one. But about 30 percent said they did not respond to the recall notice because of lack of clarity about how important it was to get the repair.

About 60 percent said owners should be required to address safety recalls before they can renew their vehicle registration - or sell the vehicle.

According to a Secretary of State official, Michigan does not have either requirement.