MSN Auto News reported that on out of every six cars on the road in the US has an untreated safety recall. This amounts to an astonishing 63 million autos. And some drivers may not even know about pending or past recalls.
While not all recalls are safety related, many certainly are.
By the amount of media attention recalls are getting, it might make the problem seem bigger than it is. But by issuing recalls, this is a sign that auto makers are doing the right thing—especially since cars are much more complex now than they were decades ago.
It may shock some to learn that it is 100% legal in the United States to sell a vehicle with a current recall notice out. Of course, changing such legislation while simple in principle, may not be so easy in practice. Recalling a car and getting the car fixed are two very different things. You can’t force car owners to get their cars fixed. At least, not yet.
And depending on the age of the vehicle, number of ownership transfers, and particular state privacy laws having to do with car ownership manufacturers may not know how to reach current owners. And some car owners simply suffer from recall fatigue.
There is some good news, however.
In February, the Center for Auto Safety and other consumer groups sued the Federal Trade Commission to stop allowing car dealers to advertise certified pre-owned vehicles with unrepaired safety recalls.
One person trying to help fix the situation is Chris Miller, CEO of Silicon Valley startup Recall Masters. Using digital forensics of more than 50 data sources—including electronic receipts from independent repair shops, tire-store chains, satellite radio subscription rolls, and even dispatch rolls from towing services—Miller’s software then invokes machine learning and data modeling to track down current vehicle owners.