Defective brand new motor vehicle recall

CAPTION: Consumer Council CEO Premila Kumar. Photo: SHALENDRA PRASAD.

If you think that purchasing a brand new motor vehicle can be problem free than, think again.

This is in light of a current recall of 1.9 million Hyundai and Kia brand new motor vehicles. Overseas media like Fox News have reported that the recalled vehicles have faults with their airbags and brake light switches.  Apart from this Hyundai Motor Co. has also recalled about 194,000 of its compact Elantra models from 2011 to 2013 to fix an air bag problem. The Kia and Hyundai recall is currently limited to Australia and North America, however the recall is expected to go global.

Vehicle recall is not unusual. Every year millions of vehicles are recalled globally due to manufacturing defects. In 2011, Honda, Ford, Toyota, Subaru, Nissan, Volvo, and other brands were recalled for defects such as engine fires, door fires, headlight failure, or faulty steering. These recalls are mainly done for safety reasons. The stringent safety requirements and regulations in the motor industry in countries like Australia, United States and in European means that manufacturers are required to have a recall system if defects are found in vehicles.

The Consumer Council is concerned that Fiji does not have a proper recall system or regulations that would require traders to recall or remove defective products from the market.

While the second-hand vehicle sector is rife with problems, the Council is aware of issues faced by few unlucky consumers with brand new vehicles. So far the Council has received 9 complaints in regards to defects found in brand new vehicles.

It is a concern that overseas recalls are often not taken seriously by LTA or the local motor industry. The Council is also questioning the current safety check systems and whether these are adequate and stringent enough to detect, trace and identify recall vehicles entering as second hand.

The Council recently received a complaint where a brand new vehicle worth $80,000 purchased from a car dealer was later found to be defective. The complainant purchased this vehicle in September 2012. Furthermore within 15 days of use, two wiper blades had to be replaced the engine was later found to be defective. Eventually, the car dealer refunded the complainant’s money.

In most cases, the car dealers acted responsibly by either replacing the vehicle or refunding the full sum of money when defects were found in brand new vehicles.

The Council believes that the Fiji Motor Traders Association must show some urgency in ensuring that a proper vehicle recall mechanism is in place as part of its corporate social responsibility. This system should address recalls in a timely manner and respond quickly to international or global recalls.

Regular advice or assurance should be given to consumers in Fiji on whether the vehicle they own is being recalled or they are not affected by this global recall made by the manufacturers.

Since such mechanisms are not in place, the Council is urging consumers to check the various product recall sites online. Internet is a rich source of information and can be used effectively in the search for vehicle recalls. Consumers should also contact their local dealer to enquire whether their vehicle has been included in any vehicle recalls. Consumers must act immediately after all it’s a safety issue more than anything else.

Consumers can visit

Premila Kumar

Chief Executive Officer

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