Three cheers for Toyota, the car manufacturer that is willing to recall its faulty cars. But why can’t others follow their lead instead of fobbing customers off when their cars may have serious issues?
Every time I hear about another Toyota recall I want to cheer. But instead, my heart sinks because I know the well-meaning car company will be slated yet again by the media for selling sub-standard cars.
You may say it serves them right – after all they were caught out by the American recalls agency, seriously dragging their feet on three separate occasions from issuing car safety recalls.
But they’ve paid their dues (more than $48 million in fines in fact), and are now merrily shouting recall over the slightest defect. In my mind, that’s very laudable, especially in the UK, where our lax system allows carmakers to call the shots over whether or not to issue a recall.
Car faults fobbed off
At Which? Car we regularly hear from car owners whose vehicles have suffered what they believe are design or manufacturing defects that could put their lives at risk.
Yet when they’ve approached the carmaker, they say they’ve been fobbed off with excuses that the faults don’t meet the right level of safety hazard, or the cars are still within their legal limits.
This was the case with both the previous generation BMW Mini and Vauxhall Meriva, both of which suffered with intermittent loss of power steering, terrifying unsuspecting owners. Yet, because a car can still technically be driven without power steering, the carmakers chose not to recall them and fix the problem for owners free of charge.
VOSA needs to earn its keep
And the Vehicle & Operator Services Agency (VOSA), the toothless government agency that oversees recalls, sided with them, instead of using its power to force them to take action. That’s the bit that really niggles me – why waste millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money employing these people to do nothing?
We’ll be doing our bit by asking VOSA to meet with us and disclose information on just what it does when it receives complaints about specific car defects. We also want it to make the process of complaining easier and more accessible.
What do you think of the UK’s car recall system? If you agree with us, then maybe you’d like to help make VOSA earn its keep by complaining to it every time you have a problem with your car that the manufacturer refuses to fix, and demanding that it does something about it.