Another week, another half-assed recall. You'll have to pardon me, folks, but the announcement of a recall of 3.8 million Ford vehicles for cruise-control switch failures has just about sent me over the edge. Ford has been picking away at the problem for a while now, recalling 800,000 trucks for potential fires earlier in the year, and 275,000 cars were recalled six years ago. The problem is that 16 million vehicles use essentially the same switch. I'll acknowledge Ford's claim that the switch is used in a variety of ways, not all of which leave the vehicle susceptible to fire when left unattended. But it would seem like engineering analysis would allow one to identify problem vehicles, at which point a single big and painful recall would have to be endured. Ford seems intent on doing things via statistic analysis, in which they're probably learning that, given enough time, faulty parts will fail in the field. That has stretched out the recall process for over half of a decade in this case.

GM did the same thing with their recent ABS problems on full-size trucks, recalling vehicles in Canada and then waiting a half-year before ?fessing up to the problem in the US. There?s other examples as well, and they?re not limited to just the two manufacturers named here. It would seem to me that if manufacturers wants to bitch about the amount of attention that they receive during recalls, then there should be an attempt to limit the number of recalls they execute. On the other hand, if they wish to drag out the process over time and catch the headlines of major news outlets two or three times, then they?ll need to accept the negative public perception that follows.

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