By Jim Donovan
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — It seems every time you turn around there is an announcement of another auto recall. Roughly one out of every 10 cars and trucks on the road has been recalled this year. But as 3 On Your Side Consumer Reporter Jim Donovan finds, just because your vehicle may have been recalled, doesn’t mean you can expect a quick fix.
When Kathy Goode of Delaware got a front axle recall notice from General Motors involving her brand new 2014 Chevy Cruze, she brought the car right to the dealership. She says, “I left it there thinking I would get it back that day, and they called me and said nope it’s in the shop.” Kathy ended up driving a loaner car for over a month. Every time she called for an update she says that she was told, “the parts are on back order.”
Nicole Moses faced a delay in getting her Jeep Liberty fixed. She says, “They turned me away because there were no parts.” Her recall involved the fuel tank. The notice says, “small chance of experiencing a fuel leak” “during certain rear end collisions” “can result in an underbody fire.” According to Moses, “They told me it could take weeks or it could take months.”
For seven months Brett Kupec says he left his two Dodge trucks parked while waiting for recall repairs on the tie rods. He says, “They tell me they’re useable, but you’re taking your life in your own hands. His recall notice says, “could cause a loss of directional control and/or crash without warning.”
“I’ve had clients waiting months and months and months for parts to get their cars fixed and there is no end in sight. The dealers don’t even know when they’re coming in,” says Bob Silverman, an attorney that specializes in automotive issues.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has strict rules about when and how a recall is issued. Under the law consumers are entitled to a remedy within a reasonable time. But the word reasonable isn’t defined.
“They can’t fix a car where there’s no part available,” says Silverman. He believes that if a vehicle is out of service for more than 30 days because of a recall condition that can’t be fixed, or because parts aren’t available, owners don’t have to just wait things out. According to Silverman, “If your car is a brand new car you might have a Lemon Law claim, you might be entitled to all of your money back. If you have a used car, or a car under warranty or even a car that’s even out of warranty that’s been sitting down with no end in sight, you’re entitled to some compensation.”
Often it’s not just a case of making additional parts, sometimes it’s a case of starting the replacement part production from scratch. That was the case with one of the General Motors ignition switch recalls. More than four months later, the company has repaired only seven percent of the vehicles.
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