All Auto Recalls: COVID-19 Raises Risk Of Using Unsafe Parts

All Auto Recalls (AAR) says that as COVID-19 shuts down vehicle parts manufacturing plants, demand for Recycled Original Equipment (ROE) vehicle parts will grow rapidly. As a result of faulty manufacture, some of these parts may be under active recall, creating a heightened risk of dangerous and potentially fatal recalled parts being fitted to cars.

The company says the law demands that faulty car parts are recalled, but the recall system appears to be flawed and does not always protect drivers.

AAR Managing Director, Chris Daglis, says Australians need to be aware of the increased risk and learn how to protect themselves. According to Daglis, the most important question every driver should ask of their repairer, insurer or seller of parts is: Do you know if a part is safe, not subject to recall and can be traced to my vehicle should it be recalled in the future?

“It’s not something many of us would give a second thought to,” said Daglis. “You have been in a collision, or your car is due for routine repairs and maintenance and we pass our vehicle over into the hands of our local mechanic or insurer. Once our car is returned, repaired and ready to drive, how many of us would question where the parts had been sourced and if they were safe? How would we know if one such part was in fact a dangerous part on the recall register? And how would we know if it were to be recalled in the future – could the part be traced to us and our vehicle?”

According to Daglis, ROE parts for collision repair have traditionally made up around five per cent of all parts used in Australia. However, with unprecedented demand following the outbreak of COVID-19, experts expect demand to rise dramatically, possibly beyond 20 per cent.

AAR says vehicle owners need to know that used parts fitted to their vehicle during repair were sourced from licensed automotive recyclers who have a lawful and robust recall process in place. The process must cover the life of the car to ensure traceability when the vehicle is sold. Daglis said this applies to all parts recyclers, including online operators.

“The recalls process is often overlooked by online sellers. It took me a short time to find over 70 unsafe, recalled Takata airbags available for sale in the online marketplaces. If I kept looking, I am sure that I would have found hundreds more. Online sellers must know if the items being placed online for sale are subject to an active recall, and they must have a recall process in place as part of their business process. Regardless of whether you are taking your vehicle to a mechanic, your insurer is fixing it, or you are a car enthusiast purchasing your own parts, knowing this could save your life,” explained Daglis.

“It is critical for mechanics, collision repairers, insurers and any on-seller of parts to have a recall checking capability so that they can alert their customer to a safety problem on their vehicle. Sometimes these recalls are critical; they are death traps. In the Takata airbag scenario, we are talking about some airbags being in vehicles that are now 24 years old, yet they were only recalled three months ago. The product safety website offers the automotive industry a static database that they can check against for recalls, or they can use the All Auto Recalls system which is dynamic, live and offers the ‘Auto Alert’ function. This will alert the mechanic if any of the vehicles they have entered into the system have a recall against them at any time in the future. Remember, a vehicle may be clear today, but recalled at some time in the future.”

AAR says the automotive recycling industry will play an increasingly important role in the parts supply chain in future, adding that ROE parts supplied by professional automotive recyclers that manage recalls effectively are critical to the long-term sustainability of the automotive repair and insurance industry.

Statistics provided by AAR reveal:

  • Recycled parts usage by country: Australia over five per cent, New Zealand 40 per cent, the USA 11 per cent and the UK two per cent.
  • Manufacturers recalled 29.3 million vehicles in 2018, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) data
  • Between 2014 and 2016, the number of vehicles affected by recalls spiked, reaching 50.5 million in 2016
  • There are in excess of 1.5 million insurance claims each year in Australia, with parts making up around 50 per cent of a vehicle’s repair cost
  • More than one million vehicles are repaired due to road accidents every year, with more going to mechanics for routine repairs