Humans are natural-born procrastinators. We put off things we know we need to do, whether that be starting a diet or workout program, calling our parents, making plans with friends and, yes, getting our cars serviced.

Considering this easy ability to put off to tomorrow what we can do today, this particular metric shouldn't surprise anyone – of all the cars that are recalled, only about 75 percent of owners actually report to dealers for repairs. That might not be a huge deal when we're talking about a recall of a few hundred cars, but with General Motors recalling 16 million vehicles in the first half of 2014, 25 percent is a big deal.

Overall, it's estimated that there are up to 36 million cars on US roads with open recalls, according to Carfax's Christopher Bosso. "That's all the recalls that don't get fixed year after year, that compound year after year," Basso told The Detroit News.

In reality, though, it's not always down to the procrastination of busy owners. All too often, recalls aren't completed because cars are sold or owners move and don't receive a recall notification.

Then there's the problem of the notifications themselves. As they only arrive via traditional mail, consumers find them easy to ignore. Other methods that have begun to develop include notification of recalls via social media, postcards and direct phone calls. One analyst suggests going even further to entice customers into reporting in for warranty work.

"If they really want to do something with customer satisfaction and recall penetration, they should do something special for people," Consumer Reports' Jake Fisher told The News. Fisher recommends offers of free service or oil changes, or perhaps a small gas card in addition to more modern means of notifying customers of recalled vehicles.

What steps do you think automakers should be taking to notify owners of pending repairs? Let us know in Comments.


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  • 18 Comments
      greenz1977
      • 6 Months Ago
      Add my recalled vehicle to the list where the fix is BS. I have a 2005 Ram 3500 that was recalled because the transmission indicator may say it is in park when it is in reverse if the lever isnt moved all the way to park. The problem is an indicator cable that needs adjustment. But the fix that got approved was to install a backup alarm that honks the horn and flashes the headlights when the driver's door is open and the seatbelt is off. Anyone who uses their truck to back up to a trailer knows this fix is a joke. My truck will never have this recall performed.
      hboi18
      • 6 Months Ago
      I thought it would be like 75%..
      David
      • 6 Months Ago
      Sometimes, the terms of the recall are unacceptable. Example, the recall on my Hyundai Veloster's panoramic sunroof. They would have repeatedly dropped a 3 inch steel ball over five spots across the front, from a height, to see if it shatters. If it shatters, then it fails. If it shatters, there's glass everywhere. If it fails to shatter, it passes, but having passed, it has already suffered the unprecedented injury of the 3 inch steel ball having been dropped across five spots. How is that acceptable? I have thus far said, "no thanks."
      thrutheeyesofbry
      • 6 Months Ago
      My dealer actually seeks out recalls. They usually pay well and help keep us busy. Not that we are slow but more work is always better. And there's always potential to win back lost customers. Some people don't get recall notices, some don't care. I had a F30 3 Series with a half dozen recalls on one ticket. Couple were at least a year old. A few months ago I got an E90 3 Series battery cable recall that came out last year. Customer just refused to come in. He eventually took measures into his own hand and removed the glove box and when he couldn't start his car (cause the battery cable melted to the rear of the fuse panel) he could just reach around and wiggle the box till it started. He did that for months. BMW dealers give anyone a loaner car if they need one while the car is in for service. There is no excuse.
      Offbԑatmammal
      • 6 Months Ago
      Are dealers properly compensated for doing recall work? Our experience with a Jeep dealer has been that getting work done for recalls, TSBs and others is an uphill battle. When I compare that to our Ford dealer it's totally different. Oh, and my Jeep was bought new and serviced at the dealer, my Mustang was second hand and gets most servicing done by a local shop but the dealer has been more than happy to do anything needed for recall/TSB. After two Jeeps looks like we'll be switching when this one needs replacing
      abright52
      • 6 Months Ago
      The key recall on the Camaro will be added to that 25%. At 6' 1", I have never hit the key with my knee or come even close. Completely pointless. Also consider the fact that Mazda uses a very similar "switchblade" key...my buddy's Mazdaspeed 3 has one. He purposely bumped the key with his knee while it was running. Care to guess what happened? The car turned off. I guess Mazda needs a recall, too.
      j.ziraldo
      • 6 Months Ago
      I would not be opposed to a system where any recall affecting the safety of others (potential for an accident, fire etc.) would have to be repaired before one could get their license renewed or buy a used vehicle.
        JaredN
        • 6 Months Ago
        @j.ziraldo
        Because you and .gov know better. It is that type of arrogance that has resulted in our bloated, overbearing government.
      Timothy Carey
      • 6 Months Ago
      As someone who works in a dealership I can attest to the fact that a lot of it stems from customer procrastination. You would think if you are gonna be getting new parts tossed in your car for free you would jump at the opportunity but we have piles of struts, steering racks, and control arms just waiting for people to actually show up for their appointments and get them replaced under warranty and we always have to keep the parts related to recalls and campaigns in stock for years because people can't be bothered to show.
      • 6 Months Ago
      I think it's absurd that the only notification method is traditional snail mail. Most of my mail is junk mail, so it would be very easy for a recall notice to end up in the middle of a bunch of junk mail and get thrown away. Perhaps better awareness of recall websites would be a good start.
        SloopJohnB
        • 6 Months Ago
        Yes…I'm thinking a national recall website where all you have to do is enter a VIN and get the Word!
      Jeff Gilleran
      • 6 Months Ago
      The idea would be to tie a recall to a Vin #. Pretty simple. The manufacturer would have a record of the recall, and if it was completed by sending a notice to the owner of said vehicle. If they cannot contact the owner, then the info would be forwarded to the DMV. If the vehicle was sold, or scrapped.. there would be records of it somewhere. :)
      SloopJohnB
      • 6 Months Ago
      One way to improve the recall rate is to treat recalls the same as emissions or equipment/safety requirements. The VIN database could be queried and simply get a ticket for it on the same basis as a broken tail light. Yeah yeah yeah, big brother and all that. But it depends on how important this is…is a car that has not been fixed as a result of a national safety recall really less dangerous than a broken tail light?
      Steve
      • 6 Months Ago
      One way to improve recall success would be to supply loaner cars. I have an outstanding recall that the dealer says will take 4 hours to complete, but they do not offer loaner cars. It is going to be quite some time before I waste half a day sitting in a service waiting room to get the repair done!
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