The Hidden & Deadly Side of Airbag Recalls
By now, everyone has heard of the fiasco that is the Takata airbag recall. With millions of vehicles affected, many consumers have either had their airbag replaced, or are awaiting parts to do so. These anxious consumers simply want to know that the vehicle is safe to drive.
Many of these consumers visit informational websites such as MotorSafety.org and plug in their VIN number to see if their vehicle has a recall. Some do not find out until they visit their local franchised dealer and, with a recall that poses such a threat to consumer safety, it’s almost presumed by all that the repairs are made without delay …well, not so fast!
A recent news article details how some recalled airbags are slipping through the cracks and consumers are driving vehicles they think have good airbags when, in fact, their vehicle has airbags with an outstanding recall.
This can occur in a couple different ways.
- A consumer buys a used vehicle that was in a past accident where the original airbag was deployed and was subsequently replaced with an airbag that has a recall on it.
- The consumer’s airbag deploys and it gets replaced.
In both scenarios, according to the article, these airbags tend to be replaced with recovered airbags from junkyards, because it costs considerably less than a new airbag. The problem is that most consumers and shops don’t think to check the replaced airbags for recalls. They are installed in the vehicle and the consumer drives home with a false sense of security. However, the replaced airbag could easily have a safety recall, which means that the consumer would be driving around – or buying – a vehicle with a dangerous airbag. Because these replaced airbags aren’t being tracked by anyone, there are probably tens of thousands of Takata airbags installed in vehicles that may never be identified and replaced with safe airbags.
Let’s circle back around to what this tangled mess means to you. Simply stated, if you want to really make an impression on your customers, consider training your service staff and instituting a process where it’s assumed that every customer’s vehicle has a recall. Most customers buy their vehicle without asking questions about whether an airbag has been swapped out – they just don’t know. But that’s where a good service advisor can help identify a huge risk that is completely hidden from the consumer at present.
Want to win a customer’s loyalty? Be proactive and ensure that their vehicle is safe. Imagine being able to identify a swapped airbag and informing the customer who had no idea. They would probably be appreciative that the dealership cared enough to check without being asked.
Elevate your service advisor’s recall senses. This will help ensure that you have good inventory acquisitions, build customer trust and loyalty, and keep dangerous vehicles off the road that would otherwise never be identified, making the roads safer for everyone.
A few seconds to ask the consumer whether the vehicle has been in an accident could save a life and create a loyal customer. If the customer is unaware of the vehicle’s history, then let them know that you’d like to provide them with peace of mind, given the potential hazard.
The recall crisis has now reached the point that your service team’s assumption should be that the vehicle has a recall which may be hidden from view. Isn’t it better to be safe than sorry? That’s our duty as an industry – to clean this mess up and to restore the consumer’s trust.