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Are Recalls On Your Car a Good Thing Or Bad Thing?

Published on July 12, 2012 under Humble Mechanic
New VW TDI recall

This is a new recall on the CR TDI cars. It is to help folks remember not to put gas in their diesel. This is what got the whole recall debate rolling

If you drive a VW, you know that at some point you will have an open recall. Even if you are not a Volkswagen driver, you still might have dealt with a recall or 2. But when is enough, enough? Lets take my Passat for example. It is a 2005 Passat wagon. It has had the following recalls.

  • Brake light switch
  • Install under body shield, and software update
  • Replace ignition coils.

Not too bad right? It is only 2 pretty minor recalls. Now, lets look at a Passat that is 1 year newer. You could be looking at the following recalls and updates.

  • Replace brake booster pipe
  • Install cover on wiper motor
  • Front seat airbag connector rewire
  • Steering column lock update
  • Intake manifold runner motor
  • PCV valve and breather pipe
  • Replace ignition coils

WOW no less than 7 recalls and updates. Is that too many? You can make a pretty darn good case for that. There are two ways we can look at the recalls.

That is a ridiculous amount of recalls
Just like I said, you can make a really good case about 7 recalls on a car. Does that mean that the manufacturer build a bad car? Well, in a sense, it does. Many of the recalls that I listed above were common repairs long before they were recalls. I rewired a ton of seat airbag connectors before that recall came out. We have been replacing the PCV valves on the 2.0t since it came out.

I imagine that it can be really frustrating for a customer. Imagine every other time you bring your car in for service, you have 2 new updates or recalls. I have seen that look on customers face. It is the “you have to be freaking kidding me, AGAIN” look.

I had a funny thing happen to me with the recall on my Passat. I brought my car into the shop for something. My service advisor( check out his interview on Behind The Wrench) said, “Hey man, you should throw those coils in while you got your car in the shop”. I didn’t really feel like it so I didn’t do it.

As my luck would have it, when I left that night, I made it to the end of the parking before my MIL starting flashing. Would you believe that the part that was on recall failed? I turned around and had to do the dang recall anyway.

At least they are taking care of the problem.
No car is perfect. If you think so, then I will gladly be the one to burst your bubble 😉 So every car has issues. How great is it that a manufacturer will take care of certain issues, free of charge. To be fair, I am sure that not all or those updates were voluntary.

I guess the main point here is really short and sweet. Be glad they are fixing something. It might turn out to be a proactive repair. If you have already paid for the repair, be sure to contact the manufacturer and try to get your money back.

So what do you guys think? Here are the questions to think about

  • What number of recalls is too many?
  • If you get a recall notice are you upset about it?
  • Do you get your recalls done right away?

Please let me know your thoughts! Also, if you have a mechanic that you love, please send them to the contact me page. I really want to get Behind the Wrench rolling again, but I need your help!

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4 Comments

  1. Richard

    I view recalls like software updates. The higher the severity, the more likely I am to rush to the dealer vs. waiting for the next 5K.

    I’m less concerned about the number of recalls, but rather the issue they are correcting. I’ll take 5-6 minor updates over 2-3 dangerous oversights any day of the week.

  2. Stephen

    I like recalls. I can get something fixed fo’ free, I’m all about it. I wish they would do more recalls on common problems. If a certain model or year run all develop a specific problem why are there not more recalls? What takes a recall to happen? A %? Only issues of safety? There’s so many systems that work together to make a car work, there’s bound to be weak points but what warrants a recall? Take the LCD cluster display, not only does it show cool stuff like what song I’m listening too but it shows if I’m low on gas, coolant, oil, washer fluid, it tells me if something is seriously wrong and I need to pull over, yet SO many Audi/vws don’t have working displays, but no recall 🙁

  3. Marty

    As an end user, I’d have to say I like recalls at one level because I consider them free preventative maintenance. But too many of them for a particular model probably say that there are problems the company considers a major liability, either legally or publicity-wise. Sadly, I think that upper corporate management doesn’t spend money without a higher motivation that has to do with their constantly shifting view of the bottom line. By contrast, I imagine the people trying to fix the problems at the line level tend to be much more sincere and helpful. YMMV.

  4. Auto Repair Shop Software

    Recalls are a good idea, it would be nice if the vehicles were built better of course, but if the repairs are needed for a recall it is a good idea from the point of view of safety. But everything should be fixed after a recall, and not one after another where one thing at time is only being looked at.

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