Honda has been lobbying vehicle regulators to consider adding recall notifications to annual registration renewals and whenever a vehicle changes hands.
That’s because automakers say recall efforts are often hampered when older vehicles are sold and the new owner falls off the manufacturer’s radar.
Of the 117,000 Honda and Acura vehicles at highest risk of airbag failure, the company reported a completion rate of 77.8 per cent. Of the remainder, almost 5,500 vehicles have not yet been located or their owners declined the no-cost repair.
The problem is not limited to airbags, Ken Dick, Honda Canada’s assistant vice-president of technical operations, government and environmental affairs, told Automotive News Canada.
Transport Canada said its data shows an average completion rate of 78 per cent for all safety recalls.
Merging recall information from vehicle identification numbers (VINs) with registration databases would allow registrars to alert owners of outstanding safety notices, he said. Updated owner contact information could also be passed back to automakers.
The Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators (CCMTA) is the principal source of vehicle registration data, which automakers must purchase if they want to track ownership.
Provincial officials were receptive to Honda’s proposals but made no commitments, said Dick.
The Insurance Corp. of British Columbia, the public auto insurer that also handles registrations, said it was reviewing the proposals.
The Global Automakers of Canada, which speaks for import brands, said it supports Honda’s effort “to the extent of providing drivers with notification of outstanding recalls and the provision of a period of time to get the recalls completed,” said president David Adams.
Manufacturers are under increasing pressure from Transport Canada to improve completion rates but have limited capability to find owners and when they do, to ensure a repair is actually done, Adams said via email.
“What Honda has been promoting is very consistent with our proposals,” echoed Mark Nantais, president of the Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers’ Association (CVMA), which represents Ford, GM Canada and FCA Canada.
“CVMA has been advocating for the past few years for assistance in communicating to vehicle owners at the time of registration or renewal of open recalls and to encourage owners to complete repairs on open recalls given potential safety implications.”
Withholding registration, however, could create problems for owners who must have access to their vehicles, he said.
The Canadian Automobile Association, with more than six million members, said it was “open” to mandatory measures.
“We would support any province that wanted to start notifying people as part of their renewal process that there’s an outstanding recall,” said spokesman Ian Jack.
“We would be interested in seeing what having a process like that in place did for the completion rates over a year or two. If that wasn’t moving the needle substantially by itself, we’d be open to considering something more mandatory.”
Recent changes to the Motor Vehicle Safety Act gave Transport Canada additional authority to require automakers to collect and share information related to potential safety defects, a department spokesman said. Work is under way to update regulations to implement the changes.
Declining to name the company, the spokesman said an automaker has approached Transport Canada proposing establishment of a “data hub” to notify owners of outstanding recalls when a vehicle is registered.