Why don't people respond to recalls?

Many people who are injured by auto defects never have a chance to respond to recalls. The defects are ignored or covered up. They only find out about them after the fact, and it's too late.

However, even when a recall is issued before an injury, statistics show that about a quarter of the issues never get fixed. These fixes are free. Why don't people respond? Below are a few potential reasons:

  • They get "recall fatigue." This happens when recalls are common. They're in the news every day. People are appalled at first, but they get used to it. They tune out and stop paying attention. They miss critical recalls to their own vehicles.
  • They bought used cars. They may not have realized that a vehicle was ever recalled -- most people don't track all of the recalls for vehicles they don't own. If the initial owner ignored the recall and just sold the vehicle, that person then gets the issue along with it.
  • Automakers don't know where a car ended up. They're supposed to send recall notices to owners, but cars do get lost in the shuffle, especially after multiple sales. The paperwork goes to the wrong house or never gets sent out.
  • People ignore small issues. They may put off repair work until the car literally won't drive or is involved in an accident, even though all of the signs of a problem where there for months.

Recalls are serious. Automakers have an obligation to keep consumers safe. When they fail to do so or even cover it up, consumers must know all of the legal options they have.

Source: Consumer Reports, "The truth about car recalls," accessed Oct. 16, 2017

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