Car recall leaves owner out of pocket

10 Nov 11 07:00AM EST
Post by Matthew Steen  Matthew Steen Google Plus
steering wheel

A couple of months ago I received a recall notice for our car in the mail. Like all CHOICE staff, when I see a recall notice, I tend to think of safety issues.

The recall notice explained that there was a possibility that if the steering wheel was locked with force, that over time it may shear the nuts that hold the wheel.

Obviously if this wearing and potential break was to happen while driving this would pose a safety risk, so the car company issued the recall notice.

It took me a while to find the time to take it to the manufacturer and before doing so I asked them how long it would take. While the recall notice stated the repair would take about four hours, the service department estimated four days because they hadn’t had anyone come in for the recall yet.

I can understand they wanted to make sure they were following the recall directions on the first car, and that the rest which followed would be quicker. However, four days is a long time and eats into my wife’s travel time because she uses the car for travel to and from work.

Given that this was a safety issue, I would have thought that the manufacturer would have supplied either a replacement car for the duration or compensated a rental car for this period. I was wrong. The manufacturer told me that only recalls where the car cannot be driven at all are compensated for in terms of a rental car. I’m not sure I see the logic in this - a safety recall is a SAFETY recall.

If a manufacturer has supplied a defective element to their product, it’s their responsibility and in their interest to compensate the lack of that vehicle purchased in good faith, even if it was several years ago. If reason for the recall was purely cosmetic, I wouldn’t care, but the potential for the steering wheel to come loose is a risk I don’t want to take.

We wanted to get the work done in any case, and so decided to go ahead with the recall and foot the bill for the rental car. It only took three days for the repair, but rentals are based on a booking so we had to pay for the four days. I explained this to the manufacturer who eventually got back to us after conferring with head office and stated that they were unable to compensate us, but that they would supply us with gift certificates to go toward our next service.

We were fine with this and thankful given the alternative of nothing, but we still think that car companies should compensate for a safety fault in their own product.

Have you ever received a recall notice? What was your experience? Do you think the manufacturer did enough?


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