March 15, 2018—On March 20, U.S. Senators will convene a previously undisclosed hearing to focus on the status of Takata air bag inflator recalls and its replacement process, which some lawmakers have said is too slow.
Jerry Moran, the Republican who chairs the subcommittee, said that the hearing would examine, among other things, the “current manufacturer recall completion rates.” Senator Bill Nelson, the top Democrat on the Commerce Committee said in a statement he hopes “we’ll finally get a real plan to improve the still woeful recall completion rates.” NHTSA says just over half of the 40 million inflators recalled to date have been replaced.
The size of this recall, and the inadequate recall completion rates will likely have a major impact on independent automotive repair shops, Bill DeBoer, owner of Hamburg, N.J.-based DeBoer’s Auto Sales & Service says.
“This is a monumental event, a major safety issue,” DeBoer says. “Twenty-two people have died, hundreds have been injured because of these things. Going forward, this is going to lead to a monumental legislation shift.”
DeBoer says that the independent network has a much larger reach than the dealerships, and can pick up their slack. He believes that independent auto repair shop owners should apply pressure to their local politicians to introduce legislation allowing independent repair shops to service these recalls.
“Working with this recall closely as a Saab OSC, the government is furious with automakers and their completion rates,” DeBoer says. “Now is the time for the independent shops to speak up and let their voices be heard that we can facilitate safety recall across our network more effectively than the dealerships.”
If the legislation is passed, DeBoer says that shops would likely have to have certain criteria, like a blue seal, or ASE certified staff to provide them some accountability. But premium shops could be able to take advantage of these services.
“If we collectively speak up as a whole and say ‘hey we can do these and they can’t,’ there are certain things they could put into place,” DeBoer says. “Maybe for any recalls over half a million vehicles, you have to start using the independent network.”