Due to the nature of mass production, a faulty part on a car can cause a recall numbering in the tens to hundreds of thousands of vehicles, even if not all of the cars in the recall are defective and need a fix. "Better safe than sorry" is the mantra. But over the past few years, automakers have learned how to perform recalls much more efficiently by employing technology that allows them to trace parts back to their sources, Automotive News reports. An extreme result of this is when General Motors used bar codes and radio frequency tags to trace defective Chevrolet Volt parts back to their source and limited a US recall to just four vehicles.

That recall was initiated after a European Volt owner brought the car in for a repair under warranty. A faulty brake valve was the problem, and instead of recalling all Volts that might be affected, GM searched its parts database and traced the faulty brake valves back to just four cars in the US.

Nissan has a similar track-and-trace system that is referred to within the company as "Bread Crumbs," named in reference to the fairy tale Hansel and Gretel. Parts that are tagged and traced are assigned to specific engineers, who track warranty cost, customer complaints and any reported defects, Automotive News reports.

Other automakers are using the same or similar practices to limit recalls to the vehicles that actually are defective. Not only should these smaller, more specific recalls help make vehicles safer, but it should lessen the monetary impact recalls have on the auto industry - which spends $45 billion to $50 billion on them per year.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 9 Comments
      creamwobbly
      • 1 Year Ago
      Bread crumbs, eh? Hansel's second effort that failed because the animals and birds of the forest ate them all up and they ended up in the witch's cottage? It was his first effort using small stones that got the pair back home.
      Seal Rchin
      • 1 Year Ago
      Recalls can also be money makers, if your car is recalled and your car needs an oilchange many people will chose to do it right there.
        Brian Reichert
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Seal Rchin
        I don't think dealerships are raking in the cash from doing recalls on vehicles that possibly need oil changes. When you take in to account: The time it takes the adviser to handle a customer and their vehicle that has an open recall The % of newer vehicles going in for recalls is greater than that of older vehicles (significantly.) New vehicles/dealers are offering free service for, at least, the first 30,000 miles, now more than ever. The first few months/years is the time where most recalls will be performed Dealer's really aren't making much money from oil changes to begin with 9/10 when I get a recall, the car actually came in for regular maintenance but showed an open recall when the service adviser punched in the vin.
      bK
      • 1 Year Ago
      The recalls are like the updates on your computer or smartphone, they continually search and fix bugs. Most parts today are serialized and inventories are stored digitally so I guess this is the new norm.
      James Scott
      • 1 Year Ago
      Kawasaki had a recall on the ABS unit for my Ninja 300 ABS, unfortunately they did not have the granularity to know what units were on which VINs so they had to inspect the ABS unit to check it's serial number. It was affected so it's in the shop till a new one arrives. Long story short, they knew which runs were affected but not which bikes unfortunately.
      • 1 Year Ago
      [blocked]
        • 1 Year Ago
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          Cool Disco Dan
          • 1 Year Ago
          You also save on the cost of bad PR.
          Fuzz
          • 1 Year Ago
          The tracking for most larger suppliers and OEM's is usually baked into whatever ERP software they use to track production/shipping etc. Like SAP. (That's how ours works)