When Jaguar Land Rover introduced their new I-PACE electric SUV, it was a culmination of fours years’ worth of work, over 1.5 million miles of testing, and hundreds of hours spent in the wind tunnel maximising efficiency, and yet some owners are having problems with batteries, charging and efficiency in the real world.

And it isn’t just JLR, as recently as January this year, Toyota have issued recall notices for the Yaris, Hilux and Auris models, Honda have announced a recall for nearly 94,000 models due to a timing belt issue, and just last year, one of the most technically advanced manufacturers (both in terms of product and manufacturing facility), Tesla, recalled 123,000 vehicles for a faulty steering component.

The clickbait headline of “More than three million death trap vehicles are on the road” is purely that – a headline that’s designed to get the curious and the outraged to click on the story, although of course, there is some merit to the story.

3 million vehicles

Data from the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) has revealed that in the last five years, there has been 1,351 separate safety recall notices issued (amongst numerous manufacturers), which affects around 9.2 million vehicles, 2,988,543 vehicles have still not had the work carried out.

One in 13 licensed vehicles has had safety recall notice which hasn’t been acted on, and it’s becoming such a problem that new plans are under consideration that could see any vehicle with an outstanding safety recall notice fail an MOT, although there would be a time allowance, effectively meaning that the vehicle could get an advisory on the first MOT after a SRN.

According to Neil Barlow, Head of Vehicle Engineering at DVSA, the highest level of safety notice is a ‘Stop Drive Recall’, which as you’d expect, would mean the owner should stop using the car or vehicle. A Safety Recall is the most common action, and it’s used when the DVSA’s engineers (usually in conjunction with the manufacturers engineers) agree that there is some safety risk, but drivers can continue using the cars while they wait for the manufacturer to repair it, unless they’re told otherwise.

Grey area

With that said, there is a potential grey area regarding a safety recall, and that’s the vehicle insurance; a vehicle with a potential safety problem could be deemed to be unroadworthy, which may invalidate the insurance, leaving you liable to prosecution and facing the wrong end of legal action should anything untoward happen.

In most cases, the vehicle insurance shouldn’t be affected, but it is worth informing your insurance company, just in case there may be a problem; in many cases, there is often a waiting time, this could be down to fitting the work in, or even a parts supply problem – in some cases, owners have had to wait months for their car to be repaired under a safety recall, which is unavoidable, yet unacceptable.

The recall process

It’s unclear as to why so many vehicles haven’t been repaired – the process for the safety recall is to contact all owners of the vehicle, including the former keepers, so it’s unlikely that the owner hasn’t received a notification.

All repairs related to the safety recall should be carried out for free, but any other remedial work needed that’s not specifically related to the recall is chargeable, which may be a problem for some owners. In my own experience when my vehicle was subject to a safety recall notice, the work was carried out efficiently and promptly, but there was an element of trying to recoup some of the lost profit (manufacturers pay low rates for warranty work) with other work they’d found ‘needed doing’.

The SMMT (Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders) say that the UK’s vehicle recall process is one of the ‘most robust’ in the world, generally more effective than other recall services (such as electrical items), but that new plans to incorporate an element of recall notices in to the MOT is a welcome move – it should to ensure that cars comply with any outstanding safety issues.

While a manufacturer will typically contact you within a reasonable timeframe of their understanding the problem, you can always check (for free) whether your vehicle(s) are under any type of manufacturer safety recall notice through the ‘Check MOT History’ of the GOV.UK website – simply type in your registration number and it will give details of the MOT and recall notices.

What do you think to the plans of incorporating the SRN in the MOT? Is it really such a problem to drive without getting fixed? Have you any safety recall notice stories? Let us know in the comments.

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