In the last three years, car recalls have been taking place on a regular basis. The latest manufacturer to catch the bug is Ford India. It has recalled 1.66 lakh units of its hatchback, the Figo, and sedan, Fiesta Classic. This also happens to be one of the biggest recalls in India. This was the American car maker's second such exercise in three years. The previous event was the recall of 109,469 units of the Figo and 22,453 of Fiesta Classic. A couple of months ago, Chevrolet had to call back 1.14 lakh units of the people carrier, Tavera, followed by 2,910 units of the Sail sedan and 1,090 units of the Sail hatchback.
And if you think Japanese brands are a safe bet then we'd hate to burst your bubble but in 2011, Maruti Suzuki
had to recall 13,157 diesel models of the Swift, Dzire and Ritz. Even Honda could not dodge this bullet when it found that 42,672 units of its second-generation Honda City sedans, manufactured in 2007 and 2008, needed to have their power window switches replaced. The list also includes Toyota and Renault.
So should we get worried that nowadays cars are not built as solid as they used to be? A recall doesn't mean that the vehicle is substandard. The Automotive Research Association of India does a thorough check of all vehicles and if during these tests parts work to perfection, then the cars are cleared. But often, due to day-to-day wear and tear, problems crop up. Most of these are niggles and when cars are recalled to rectify these, they are fixed within a day, more if the problem is complicated. This practice has been followed in the West ever since cars were built. But due to the lack of awareness among customers and the media in India, 'recall' has become a dreaded word.
Ford's all-new EcoSport itself was recalled soon after its launch and just over 970 diesel models were back in the workshops. The current recall of the Figo shouldn't alarm owners. "Ford India recalled the remaining batches of Ford Figo and Ford Classic models to inspect them for potential issues related to the Rear Twist Beam and the Power Assisted Steering Hose," says Ford in a statement.
Many car manufacturers believe that such recalls bring in transparency between the car company and the customer as it is a progressive way forward in ironing out problems. Renault India had recalled 7,016 Pulse and Scala cars on May 28, 2013 but the company's outlook was positive, and it said that the exercise only helped in increasing customer confidence as no sensitive matter is hidden from the buyer. Similarly, Vinay Piparsania, executive director (marketing, sales and service), Ford India, says, "We initiated it (recall) voluntarily, it demonstrates our unwavering commitment to our customers."
These recalls have assured car owners that no safety issue had been compromised on. "The feedback from our customers has been positive," says Piparsania. "They have told us that they appreciate the proactive way we notified them and handled the inspection process."
It is great that the car is being fixed, but how much does the customer pay for it. Don't sweat it - all the costs are borne by the car company. Ford says, "Post inspection if replacement is required this will be done free of charge at no cost to the customer." If you don't take your car despite the recall, the auto maker is not liable for future incidents.
You will be called by your dealer, or you can check if your car is in the list of recalled models and then approach the nearest dealer. They will inform when you have to send the car to them. Once there, the problem is looked at, and the solution worked out at no cost to you.
However, not everything is cut and dry as the case of the Chevrolet Tavera shows. The government pulled up General Motors, the manufacturers, because the main reason for the recall was due to manipulation of the vehicle's specifications to meet emission norms. The government is now working at making it mandatory for auto makers to recall vehicles in the event of manufacturing defects. This way, no car company can get away by cutting corners, to the relief of buyers.