Continuing the ongoing string of recalls, Takata Corp. announced in July a recall of 2.7 million driver-side frontal air bag inflators that are at risk for rupturing, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
As evidenced by this, fleet managers need to remain on top of airbag recalls.
The following best practices for airbag recalls will help fleet managers streamline the vehicle repair process and maintain driver safety.
Staying abreast of recalls pertaining to a fleet manager’s asset portfolio is essential, and is a responsibility that ultimately rests on the shoulders of him or her.
“If you have a fleet, it’s important to stay on top of recalls, and ultimately, the responsibility falls on the fleet manager to check the VINs and make sure there are no new recalls on your vehicles,” said Tom Musick, a representative with the National Safety Council. “A safer fleet means a safer workforce and it’s important to protect your employees.”
This act should be simple enough, as automakers are required by law to mail recall notices to registered owners within 60 days of the recall posting.
In an effort to help streamline the recall repair process, several automakers have established programs to support fleet recalls.
Specific to airbags, Ford has been installing replacement airbag inflators in the interim of permanent repair for assets. Also, GM has established its Fleet Recall Program and FCA created its Fleet Recall Parts Ordering Process initiative.
Fleet managers may want to regularly monitor websites such as recalls.gov, or the National Safety Council’s website, checktoprotect.org, to stay up to date with vehicle recalls.
Musick added that fleet managers should review vehicles for open recalls just as regularly as they would check for other vehicle maintenance. He said fleet managers should check their VINs on checktoprotect.org or elsewhere because hard-copy recall notices might not always be mailed to the right location in the company.
Another best practice he mentioned would be coordinating with leadership and implementing regular recall checks as part of an overall fleet safety policy.
Another way fleets can streamline the recall repair process is by signing up with a third-party recall notification service that allows fleet managers to more easily assess the daily recall status of their vehicles.
Prioritizing the Recalls
Something fleet managers might consider, as it relates to airbag recalls, is that there is priority over which vehicles are repaired first.
With the Takata airbag recalls, manufacturers have been working with NHTSA’s order to remedy by region, giving priority to hot and humid areas where the inflators are more likely to rupture, as well as prioritizing older model-year vehicles.
Because of this, fleets may want to contact their dealerships as soon as they become aware of a recall notification.
Musick said that if a fleet has some variety in terms of vehicle makes and models it can reduce the chances of having one blanket recall wiping out an entire fleet for an undetermined amount of time.
He added that the risk of any potential injuries or fatalities as a result of not handling the recall as quickly as possible is much greater than the financial inconveniences of trying to find vehicle replacements until proper repairs can be made.
Musick said organizations also could encourage their workers to check for recalls on their personal vehicles as part of an off-the-job safety initiative.
“It doesn’t necessarily only have to be vehicles in their fleet. That’s a great way to promote safety while you’re on the clock, but employers also have an incentive to keep workers safe on the weekends when they are with their families,” he added.