Consumers Frustrated that Regulators Take Regional Approach to Automobile Safety Issues
Though most consumers don’t realize it, federal regulators often take a regional approach to recalls and other safety measures, requiring car dealers in some parts of the country to fix specific problems, but not enforcing the recalls in other areas. Consumers contend that such an approach does not take into account the highly mobile nature of our culture.
A case in point, for many who oppose the concept of regional recalls, is the Chevy Equinox. Studies showed that the fuel pump on the Equinox was susceptible to cracking when exposed to high air temperatures. Federal regulators issued a recall, requiring General Motors to replace or repair the fuel pumps, but the recall only applied to Equinox owners in four states—Arizona, California, Nevada and Texas. Officials from G.M. say they conducted a state-by-state analysis and determined that those were the four states where such cracks were likely to occur. According, motorists in other states, such as Connecticut and Michigan, were unable to get dealers to replace or repair cracked fuel pumps unless they paid for repairs themselves.
Another recall—one of the largest currently in place—applies to only two states—Florida and Hawaii—and to two U.S. territories—Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. The recall involves air bags used in vehicles manufactured by a number of automakers. Numerous instances have been reported where the airbags have spontaneously ruptured, sending metal shrapnel throughout the car. Takata, the company that manufactures the airbags, claims that the high humidity in the two states and territories is the contributing factor in the airbag problems. However, Honda Motors, one of the companies using the airbags, expressed concerns that the entire Gulf of Mexico has similar humidity levels.
Those opposed to regional recalls say that they offer no relief for individuals who travel to the covered states, or to persons who purchase vehicles from those states, but live in states not covered by the recalls.
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