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Chris Miller

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Will the NHTSA Allow Independents to Perform Recall Repairs?

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While consumers regularly patronize independent repair facilities, dealers have always been able to rest assured that any recall repair work would remain in their hands. However, according to an article in Automotive News, that might be about to change. Seems as if the NHTSA is concerned with the speed at which dealerships can perform recall repairs - specifically ones involving the massive amounts of vehicles affected by the Takata airbag failures. Nationally, the recall repair completion rate sits at 22.5 percent, according to the article. With 19 million vehicles spanning 12 manufacturers that are subject to this replacement, the NHTSA is considering expanding recall repair services to include independent repairs shops. Of course, there are many challenges involved in making this effective, including the contractual obligation Takata has to only sell supplies to manufacturers. As well as manufacturers requiring that these repairs are completed at franchised dealers. These hurdles, however, could be trumped by a regulatory body concerned with expediting these repairs.

 

The concern here is that in allowing independents to perform this work, manufacturers have no control of the quality of the repair. In addition, this move could set a precedent that independents are included in future recall repair work, should this situation come to fruition. Perhaps this is one reason manufacturers are pushing dealers to expand their service departments so as to accommodate an increase in shop capacity. Either way, recall repairs – both large and small - are a staple of any dealer’s service department revenue. In giving independents the ability to perform recall repairs, the NHTSA would certainly be biting into revenue that dealership’s need to stay operational.

 

So what’s the solution?

 

Understandably, for the safety of consumer’s that own these vehicles, the regulatory body is focused on ensuring that they are repaired as quickly as possible. I’m sure that dealers would love to grab as much of this recall work as possible. However, many of the affected vehicles have gone through multiple owners throughout their lifespan –some are up to 10 years old. So, following a paper trail to identify their current owners is a challenge for the NHTSA.

 

If your dealership took the time and used resources to identify and reach out to these consumers through multiple channels, perhaps there would be an increase in the notification success rate. Then an action increase would follow (i.e. more customers coming in for the recall work) which could begin to alleviate the NHTSA concerns. In the end, all they really want is to expedite the completion of repairs. Take steps now to reach out to these owners. You’ll find that service revenue and sales opportunities increase. You could, perhaps, even help the automotive industry cut this unprecedented shift of recall repair work to independents.

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