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Total Recall

Car production line

It is not an uncommon occurrence in the UK for products to be recalled. Often this is a minor inconvenience but the reason for the recall is because the product has a real and potentially harmful defect.

Every time a product is recalled it is inevitably because there is a risk to consumers. We have all seen in the press reports of recalls of prams, food products and the recent high profile Samsung recall which was highlighted in a recent blog by my colleague Hema Vekaria.

Vehicle recalls

The focus of this blog is the recall of cars. The dangers posed by a faulty car perhaps exceed your average recall. If something goes wrong in a car, injury seems almost inevitable. You can imagine horror stories of failed brakes or engines catching fire. For one client of mine the alleged failure is in one of the major safety features of a car which is designed to protect her in the event of a crash.

Toyota recently identified over 1.2 million vehicles in Europe where they are voluntarily recalling the cars because of faulty Takata airbags. My client’s claim centres on the allegation that for her this recall was too late.

She was involved in a car accident which is a traumatic enough process as I’m sure many of you know. But, in addition to the impact my client was left with injuries that we believe would not have occurred but for the failure of the airbag to correctly inflate.

It was just five days after the accident that a letter was sent to my client confirming the potential fault and explaining that in due course she would be contacted to make an appointment at a local dealer to replace the airbags.

The starting point is that rigorous testing before a car even hits the market should ensure that recalls do not happen. However when they are required they need to be dealt with promptly to ensure the risks are minimised. Here there was awareness of the risks and even then there was a delay in being able to arrange to fix this safety issue.

Updates to DVLA

Consumers can of course help a little in this process. If you move home and fail to update your address with the DVLA you are putting yourself at risk of not receiving a recall letter. If your address is not current and you own a car bought in the last few years (this particular recall relates to cars made and sold as far back as 2003!) please update your address.

Checking vehicle recalls

Further you can check to see if there have been any recalls. Usually this is detailed on the manufacturer’s website. The Toyota recall information can be found here – it involves the Toyota Corolla, Yaris, Picnic, Avensis Verso, Tundra and Sequoia (March 2003-March 2007) and the Toyota RAV4, Yaris and Hilux (July 2003-December 2005).

People rightly feel aggrieved that manufacturers fail regularly in making sure that safe products find their way to market and unsafe ones are caught before there is any risk to the public at large.

UPDATE: Whilst I have been writing this blog the BBC have put an updated article on their website today confirming that Toyota are recalling another 5.8 million cars worldwide including cars produced as far back as May 2000!