Fears as thousands of cars miss vital safety recalls every year

Safety recalls

Recalls can be required for important safety equipment such as airbags

Thousands of cars sold last year have missed vital safety recalls, official figures show. The Driver Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) has revealed that 87,000 vehicles checked in 2017 had failed to have important safety recall work carried out.

On top of that, the vehicle’s current owners weren’t aware that they were possibly driving a defective vehicle. In an attempt to get on top of the problem, the DVSA has launched a new website. The aim is to make it easier for drivers to find out if their car has been recalled for a safety glitch they may not know about. Here’s why this is such a pressing problem.

Why it’s vital to know if your car’s been recalled

In addition to the danger it puts you and other road users in, driving an unroadworthy vehicle could result in a hefty £2500 fine plus three penalty points. Not being aware that the car needed the work doing is no defence. The new DVSA website is an easy way to satisfy yourself that you’re not driving a potentially dangerous car.

The agency’s chief executive, Gareth Llewellyn said: “Whether you’re buying a car from a dealership, through an auction or from a private seller, you want to be confident that the vehicle you’re buying is safe to drive. And once you own a car you’ll also want to keep up-to-date with new safety recalls.”

Why this is such a huge problem

Last year the DVSA checked 1.14m used cars. It found that 87,000 hadn’t been back to dealerships to have safety recall work done. In the UK, 8.1m second-hand motors were sold last year. If the DVSA’s figures are simply a snapshot, it means around 620,000 vehicles went to new owners in 2017 with possible safety defects.

Why are recalls so important?

Modern cars are hugely complicated pieces of equipment. They rely on thousands of components working seamlessly together. Unsurprisingly, on occasion, there are design faults, failures in components or the material they’re made from.

Safety recalls

It’s in here somewhere… Modern cars are complex bits of kit

To rectify these, car makers issue recalls. With the help of the government, they attempt to contact all the owners of affected cars. These can then be taken into manufacturer franchised dealers where work to rectify the faults is carried out for free.

Why cars miss recalls

It’s easy with newer cars because dealerships are still likely to be in touch with owners. However, safety problems can be discovered years after a car was first sold. Recall work may not have been carried out on these motors.

Cars may have changed hands, owners may have moved home, or they may simply be unwilling to have the recall work done if they know they’re going to be getting rid of the car. Selling a car privately knowing it needs to have recall work done isn’t against the law. However, traders and online sellers must do recall work before moving a car on. Cars needing to have recall work will fail their MOT from 2018 onwards.

How many cars miss recalls?

In the five years to 2017, the DVSA oversaw recalls to 9 million vehicles. Researchers from Auto Express found that recalls were issued for 2.2m vehicles to have faulty airbags, fire risks and steering failures attended to. But the magazine claimed only 47.7 per cent of those cars went back to dealerships for repairs.


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