2010 - Year of the Recall

Monday 31st January, 2011
You'd have to be living with your head in the sand to not have heard any news about vehicle recalls last year. Whether it was a case of misunderstanding, or simply a slow news day, for a while you simply couldn't pick up a newspaper without reading news about a recall crisis hitting a car manufacturer.

The fact is, vehicle recalls are an important fact of life to the motor industry. Would you rather the company that built your car pretend there wasn't a problem, or make an effort to call your car in and repair the defect before you even noticed an issue? Sometimes the fault is linked to safety, as was the case with the recall of the Ferrari 458 Italia in September 2010 to replace a heat shield that had been linked to fires in the vehicles.

Obviously the best case scenario is for the vehicle manufacturer to build a vehicle and have sufficient standards and quality control in place to avoid a recall ever being required but with many vehicle components being made by 3rd parties, and the increasing complexities of modern vehicle design, this is quite a challenge.

My own vehicle being involved in a recall activity led me to take a look at how often this kind of thing happened and to see which car companies, in the UK, were involved in the most vehicle recalls in 2010. I was so surprised by the results, I thought I would write up the highlights and bring you the Top 3 Recallers in the UK.

Compiling the data is simple, just a little time consuming. Simply visit this VOSA search page and enter your required parameters. Entering a start date of January 2010 and an end date of December 2010 will give you all of the recalls in the database for that year. If you just want the information from a specific manufacturer, you can do so from the drop down.

After extracting all of the data, I narrowed my results down to just cars - vans, truck, bikes, buses are all excluded. I also removed any duplicates from the list, only counting each "Recalls Number" once. If a recall affects multiple models or 2 or more VIN ranges, there will be multiple entries relating to just one concern - I think it's important to only count these once.

Finally, the Top 3 completely ignores the total number of vehicles affected - as I see it, a single car with 10 different faults is more of an issue than a selling 10 cars which each have the same fault.

So who are the Top 3 Recallers in the UK during 2001?

3rd Place - Peugeot

Casting my mind back to 2010, I don't remember a single headline involving Peugeot but they came 3rd in my study, having no less than 14 recalls listed on the VOSA database for cars alone - actually twice as many as Toyota who came 4th with just 7.

Problems range from a "vehicle exterior lights may fail without warning" fault in January 2010 that only affected the Peugeot 807, to a "braking assistance may not perform correctly" problem that pretty much affected all models. Seats, power steering, parking brakes and windscreen trim were also involved in other recall notices to owners.

2nd Place - Citroen

Just above fellow French manufacturer Peugeot, come Citroen with 16 recalls in the VOSA database. Not only do they have their nationality in common though, a quick glance at the results shows a lot of commonality.

In Jan 2010, we see a Citroen C8 recall concerning the "VEHICLE EXTERIOR LIGHTS MAY FAIL WITHOUT WARNING". According to the description, "The lighting management system may incorrectly detect the position of the exterior lighting control switch. This may cause the exterior light to switch off without warning." This is exactly the same text that applied to the recall of the Peugeot 807 in the same month.

Peugeot had a similar recall affecting 307, 308, 807 and Expert III (van) in October 2010 - on the Citroen side we see the same recall affecting C2, C3, C3 Pluriel, C8 and Disbatch III (van). Same concern, same description, same fault? Looks like it.

As with Peugeot, some Citroen models were also affected by the "braking assistance may not perform correctly" issue - in fact, at a glance, it's easy to think you're looking at the same list. This is a perfect example of 2 brands working closely together, but obviously they are the same company.

1st Place - Volvo

This was a jaw dropping surprise to me. Not only were Volvo winners of our little recall lottery, they also have an amazing 19 recalls listed in the VOSA database - that's more than three times as many as Honda, who placed 5th.

Volvo generated a massive 73 results in the VOSA search, easily spanning onto 2 pages for me. These span from "GEARBOX MAY JAM" affecting nearly 7000 XC70,V70,S80,XC90, C30, S40, V50, C70 AND XC60 cars, "ENGINE MAY SEIZE" in S60,XC60,V70,XC70 AND S80 to "ENGINE MAY CUT OUT" in S80,V70,XC70, XC60, S60 AND V60 models.

Even more shocking, for a company who likes to pride itself in its safety, are defects such as "WHEEL MAY BECOME LOOSE", affecting V60, V70, XC70, S80 AND XC90 models, "ENGINE SPEED MAY NOT DECREASE" affecting over 20,000 C30,S40,V50,C70,XC60,V70, XC70 & S80 models "AIRBAG MAY NOT DEPLOY AS INTENDED", affecting nearly 7000 S60, XC60, V70, XC70 AND S80 models, "ENGINE SPEED MAY INCREASE WITHOUT WARNING" affecting over 4000 S80, V70, XC70, XC60. Finally "FIRE MAY OCCUR" on C30,S40,V50,S60,V60, XC60,V70,XC70 & S80 models is one of 5 defects that could have caused a fire in up to 5488 Volvo vehicles

So, thanks to all who have taken part - I wonder who will be our winner for 2011? It looks like Volvo still have problems with that runaway engine which has now been listed under 3 different concerns, but the same description, over the past year - this time affecting another 4787 vehicles but there's still 11 months to go.

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