A Guide to Car Safety Recalls

What are vehicle recalls?


When a car manufacturer becomes aware of a fault with a vehicle that could pose a threat of injury or worse, they’ll issue a recall. This may also happen when a component fails to meet Australian standards.

Once this is published, they’ll most probably contact you directly to inform you of the safety issue. Commonly, they’ll already have a replacement procedure in place, so you can take your car back to the dealership, where the mechanics will carry out a repair. It may be as simple as swapping out a component for a redesigned replacement, or it might involve some modifications to a vehicle to prevent the failure from occurring.

For example, Suzuki recently issued recall number REC-005061 that seeks to update some incorrect information in the owner’s manuals of the 2015-2022 Vitara SUV. Suzuki states they’ll write to owners to provide them with the correct child restraint fitting instructions. According to the recall page, 4,879 Vitaras were affected.

There are two main types of recalls, voluntary and compulsory. Voluntary recalls are submitted by the manufacturer or supplier. Compulsory recalls come from the responsible Commonwealth Minister, who determines whether a supplier has taken the appropriate actions.


How do I know if my vehicle has been recalled?

The vehicle manufacturer should let you know, but just in case they have the wrong details for you, you can check at vehiclerecalls.gov.au.

Using the search bar, enter the model name of your car to view the issued recalls. You can also subscribe to the Vehicle Recall newsletter or follow them on social media to hear about prominent recalls.


Are vehicle recalls important?

Yes, extremely. In many cases, failing to have the defective part or system repaired could pose an increased level of injury, or even result in fatalities.

It’s critical that you have any current recalls on your vehicle fixed. Many drivers are also not aware that if they’re notified of a recall against their vehicle and fail to get it repaired this could potentially cause issue with their car insurance, should they get injured or are involved in an accident.


Should I buy a new vehicle if it has an outstanding recall?

Before buying a new car, it’s best to check to see if it has an outstanding recall. Then verify with the salesperson if they’ve already carried out the fix. If not, make it very clear that you will not buy the vehicle until this has been completed.


Which car brands issue the most vehicle recalls?

According to the Vehicle Recalls website, the following brands have issued the most vehicle recalls. It should be noted that some of the brand’s recalls are from as far back as 1986.

Brand Recalls
Mercedes-Benz 274
Holden 178
Ford 177
Toyota 174
Mitsubishi 126
Volvo 116
Peugeot 109
Land Rover 100
Nissan 98
Audi 93

The brands with the fewest recalls in the Vehicle Recalls database are RAM, Abarth and Infiniti, with one recall each.

Do car manufacturers only recall new models?

No, they will also publish safety recalls for older models too. For example, in 2020, Toyota, Mazda and Suzuki all published Takata airbag recalls for models built between 1996 and 1999.


Author details

Ben Gribbin
Ben Gribbin is an experienced automotive writer and life-long car enthusiast with a passion for restoring classic vehicles. He brings many years of experience working with and writing about cars.

LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/ben-gribbin-735a06101/
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