Car recalls are a common occurrence. But not every vehicle that gets recalled is repaired–including the one your Uber or Lyft driver is using.
When something goes wrong with a batch of cars (or just a single truck), consumers can report it to the manufacturer and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. If a pattern is identified–say, for example, 2010 Toyota Rav4s all have the same issue with the instrument cluster–the vehicles are usually recalled.
A letter gets sent to the registered owners of every vehicle involved in the recall, telling them how and where to get the problem fixed. Although the repairs are always free, not every driver follows through on it. And that’s where the problem begins.
According to a report from the NHTSA, less than 60% of the cars recalled between 2012 and 2016 were actually repaired. In part, it’s because of the massive headache involved in notifying the owners of used vehicles. The manufacturer should, in theory, be able to track down the registered users by the VIN number, but there are inevitably some cars that fall through the cracks in the system.
It’s also possible that the owners might lose or ignore the letter. In that case, they simply continue driving despite the chance of known defect. Recent recalls include cars that can stall out while driving or faulty headrests that might cause injury in a wreck.
It’s one thing if an individual chooses not to repair their car. But when you get picked up by an Uber, Lyft, or other similar service, you should be able to feel safe in a well-maintained car.
An investigation by Consumer Reports discovered that 1 in 6 vehicles used by rideshare drivers in New York City and Seattle were part of an open recall.
The Center for Auto Safety group sent a letter to Uber, Lyft, and other rideshare providers to urge them to take action. “At a minimum, Uber should give its customers the choice of whether to ride in a recalled vehicle at the time a driver is assigned,” CAS executive director Jason Levine wrote.