Media shines light on recall dangers


Automotive industry watchers are waiting to see if a new investigation will expedite government action on the issue of selling vehicles subject to open safety recalls.

A CBC piece published this week reported on what most in the industry have known for years – there is no legislation in place at the provincial or federal level that prevents a dealership from retailing a vehicle with an outstanding safety recall.

And as more and more cars are purchased and the scope of some recalls grows exponentially – Takata air bags, GM ignition switches and a bevy of other recalls that affect millions of vehicles – the issue could gain more steam.

CBC News said it randomly checked 200 vehicles for sale across the country and found roughly one in six had recalls that remain unfixed or open.

Canadian AutoWorld columnist Kevin MacDonald has been championing this cause for months. He was a source cited in the report and said that nobody – government, dealer nor OEM – is taking responsibility for the issue.

According to CBC, safety-related recalls of passenger vehicles have grown by 74 per cent in the past six years. The news agency said more than 5 million vehicles were caught up in 2015 recalls alone.

The only related legislation of any note is the requirement for manufacturers to contact owners when there is a recall and then report its completion rates to Transport Canada. In the face of essentially no government oversight, the issue is compounded by the problems automakers report with trying to identify and contact owners of affected models.

George Iny, president of the Automobile Protection Association, said often OEMs have a more successful time notifying customers of sales events than safety recalls.

“It’s incredible, but the recall notice department of the carmaker might not be speaking with the automaker’s other databases,” Iny told CBC. “They’re bringing people in for a spring special or for a deal on a brand new car, but safety notices – they do the bare minimum.”

Given that CARPROOF released a similar study over a year ago that found one in five used vehicles for sale online in Alberta had an unfixed safety recall, MacDonald said he is not surprised by CBC’s results.

MacDonald has written a number of letters to various related agencies at both the federal and provincial levels in recent weeks asking about the lack of regulations. He said it is likely an issue that will fall into the provincial purview.

“The verbiage of some of these recalls scares the daylights out of me,” he said, noting his dealership – Carling Motors in Ottawa – has decided not to retail any vehicles with unfixed safety recalls.

“But not all dealers understand they have vehicles with safety recalls, and that’s the part that really bothers me.”

– With files from CBC News