Vehicle Recalls

Motor vehicles are legally required to be manufactured in such a way as to be sufficiently safe and environmentally acceptable for road use. In some cases vehicles may be subject to a recall
What is a vehicle recall

A European wide system of approval, known as type approval is essentially a series of stringent tests that a vehicle, or part of a vehicle (e.g. its brakes), must pass before it is allowed use on a public road.
A vehicle with type approval may however be subject to a recall. This will mainly be announced by the vehicle manufacturer and will involve a particular model or models of vehicles. Usually, recalls arise when a particular vehicle component is found to be, or becomes, dangerously or prematurely defective during use of the vehicle. In such instances, the manufacturer will endeavour to contact all owners of affected vehicles, in order to arrange for the vehicle to be brought to a dealership for repairs and/or adjustments to be carried out.

The cost of repair or adjustment is borne by the manufacturer and this is a legal requirement for all vehicles sold in Europe.

Legislation governing vehicle recall

The type approval framework directive 2007/46/EC prescribes the procedure to be followed by manufacturers in case of fault or defect of their vehicles or components. The manufacturer must inform immediately the approval the Approval Authority who granted approval to the vehicle concerned and propose appropriate remedies. The Approval authority must then communicate the proposed measures to all other Member States without delay.  Note that The Approval Authority may withdraw an EC vehicle type-approval if the manufacturer does not propose and implement effective remedies. In Ireland the Approval Authority is the National Standards Authority (NSAI). 
How can a vehicle component become faulty prematurely?
Each motor vehicle used on a public road in Europe must pass a series of tests as part of its approval process.

These tests are to ensure a minimum level of safety and environmental acceptability. All Member States of the European Union have agreed that if a vehicle meets these minimum requirements then the vehicle can be sold anywhere in Europe.

In addition to the tests for approval, there are many more tests carried out on a vehicle during its design and production. These are carried out by the vehicle manufacturer. Extensive testing ensures that a vehicle will meet legal requirements and also perform adequately during its useful life.

While a vehicle component may have passed tests carried out to ensure that it performs adequately during its life, they may still fail during use. This is because vehicle testing has difficulty in replicating exactly how a component will behave after many hours of driving or under unexpected or unlikely circumstances. The recall system ensures that problems encountered during driving are acted on by the manufacturer.

My vehicle is subject to a recall – what should I do?
Normally you will receive a letter from the manufacturer containing instructions on how to proceed. However in the event that you do not receive such a communication you should contact your local dealership or the vehicle manufacturer quoting your Vehicle Identification Number (V.I.N.).
Your manufacturer will have identified the vehicle model(s) affected and will be able to advise you on the course of action to take.

You can consult your vehicle handbook/manual for information on where to find the V.I.N. on your vehicle.
Could my vehicle have been the subject of a recall that I was not made aware of ?
When a vehicle is subject to a recall manufacturers try to contact all registered owners with the assistance of data from the Department of Transport’s National Vehicle and Driver File (NVDF).
Therefore, it is important that the details recorded on the NVDF, particularly your ownership details, are up to date at all times.

If you wish to amend these details, for example on changing address, you should contact :
Driver and Vehicle Computer Services Division,
Department of Transport, Shannon Town Centre,
Co. Clare.
Tel: (061) 365000
Locall: 1890 411412
Fax: (061) 363480

If you are concerned that your vehicle was subject to a recall and you missed it, you can contact your local dealership or manufacturer.

In the case of a second hand vehicle which was subject to a recall before you purchased it, the previous owner may have had the vehicle checked. Documentation showing this should be with the vehicle handbook / vehicle documentation or in a storage compartment in the vehicle.

However, if you do not have such documentation, check with the dealer, quoting the vehicle’s V.I.N.

I purchased my vehicle privately rather than through a dealership, if it is subject to recall will it be missed?
 NVDF data supplied to manufacturers will include details on all vehicles subject to the recall irrespective of the source from which the vehicles were purchased provided the data on the NVDF is current.

Further information
You can get further information regarding your rights as a consumer from the National Consumer Agency (NCA). They advise consumers in relation to their rights under The Sale of Goods and Supply of Services Act, 1980 and the Consumer Protection Act 2007.

The NCA provides guidelines in relation to making a complaint where you are unhappy with a product or services. The NCA’s website also contains details of all products subject to a recall, including motor vehicles.

The NCA can be contacted at:
National Consumer Agency
4 Harcourt Road
Dublin 2
Lo-call 1890 432 432 or (01) 402 5555
Phone 01 402 5500
Fax 01 402 5501

Author: Geraldine Herbert

Motoring Editor and Columnist for the Sunday Independent and editor of wheelsforwomen. Geraldine is also a regular contributor to Good Housekeeping (UK), EuroNews and to RTÉ, Newstalk, TodayFM, BBC Radio and Vigin Media. You can follow Geraldine on Twitter at @GerHerbert1

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