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Another busy month for automotive recalls

Continuing the trend for the year, September has again been a busy month for automotive recall alerts, with 18 placed within the first two-thirds of the month. However, with 35 recalls placed in Europe in August, it remains to be seen if recall levels remain at the high levels observed.

The third week of September saw a spike in recalls, with a number of established marques issuing notices for a variety of defaults. The majority of the recalls happened in Germany, with one major manufacturer recalling 227,000 vehicles across Europe due to problems with airbags and seatbelt pre-tensioners. The recalls affected seven different models, with Germany’s KBA federal motor authority saying the cars needed an update to the software of the airbag control units.

Elsewhere, a popular family car manufacturer recalled more than 120,000 cars, again due to a dangerous fault with the airbag.

Other recalls included software issues resulting in the failure of the front LED turn signal, inadvertent release of seatbelts, failure to meet CO2 emissions regulations, a manufacturing fault that may cause wheel nuts to loosen and a fixed roof luggage carrier rail which may become loose.

With such a myriad of reasons — each with potentially dangerous consequences — recall managers must adopt a big picture approach when recognising all potential scenarios.

However, there are some recall reasons that appear more often on alert lists — notable issues with airbag deployment. Airbags have been around since the 1970s and are mandatory on every vehicle. When they were first launched, car manufacturers recommended an inspection of them every ten years. However, advances in airbag module technology now ensure the lifelong, functional reliability of the airbags. While this is of some comfort, the consistent recall of cars with airbag issues can cause concern and is something the wider industry needs to pay close attention to.

The best advice for car drivers is to stay up to date with the recall database, which is updated as soon as alerts are placed. In the UK, the government website will list any alerts for a car if the driver inputs the registration.

For manufacturers, as always, Sedgwick's team of experts are available to discuss recall management and strategy.

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