The big deal about car recalls

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Posted  Thursday, April 24  2014 at  01:00

Two major auto-makers, General Motors and Toyota recently issued major car recalls for some of their popular models. Most motorists in Uganda, however, are uncertain whether they should be alarmed by this or not. My Car experts discuss in detail what the recall is all about and why you need to be informed. Dig in.

Jude: Recently, there was a recall for Toyota products including RAV4, Scion and Camry among others. What are the chances that we can have car recall affecting Ugandans? Do we even know what a car recall is?

Paul: I think we need first to know what a recall is. Whenever car manufacturers make product recalls, sometimes some of the products malfunction. They issue a recall programme. Under the recall programme, that particular product is supposed to be rectified and the car is returned to the customer in a proper working condition. Often, the recall ends up becoming a warranty issue. We need to separate the two. There is the usual warranty issue, where you buy a brand new car from dealer X and they tell you nothing should happen to the car within the next three years.

Mustafa: Three years or 100,000km whichever comes first as they usually say.

Paul: Along the way, the transmission stops working yet you have been servicing with the dealer. So they will fix the car free of charge. A global recall is a bigger problem like what happened to Toyota. Remember, the fly by wire system whereby cars would accelerate themselves because of the electronic accelerators, or the brakes failed?
That became a big deal because there was even some politics. Toyota’s issues in the US were even taken to the Senate but what happened to Toyota could also happen to any other car manufacturer. Even Mercedes makes recalls, like the recall of their A-Class where they had to replace ESP system? A recall can happen to any manufacturer, but we need to differentiate warranty and a recall. Warranty can only work when you continue servicing with the local representative in your country. But with a recall, you are advised to report immediately because it can affect your safety.

Jude: From what I can pick from your explanation, it is unlikely that a Ugandan will suffer or be affected by a recall.

Paul: Do you mean a Ugandan benefiting from a recall? Let me put it this way, owners of such cars are not suffering but instead they are beneficiaries.

Jude: Okay, beneficiaries, but what are the chances that some Ugandans will benefit if any?

Mustafa: Put it this way, they have recalled a specific RAV4, will I take it to Toyota Uganda and they fix it for me?

Jude: That is my question.

Paul: It depends on the agreement you made wherever you bought the car. If you bought the car brand new and it was meant for Uganda, then you take it right to the dealer and they will fix it. If you bought it second hand from someone else, that will be a problem.

Jude: So if I drive to Toyota Uganda, who pays for the bill? Or is the car shipped back to Japan?

Paul: By the way, a recall programme does not require taking the car back to where it was manufactured. It usually involves taking the car back to the dealer and it is fixed free of charge. The manufacturers are trying to salvage their reputation because they put something in your car and it didn’t work, so they need to fix it under warranty.

Mustafa: So, a recall in Uganda is a bit difficult. Like Paul is saying, you have to have bought the car brand new; it has to be a car for that market.

Jude: You have to be the very first owner and the car not having been sold to different people.

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