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Tool helps fleets check for car safety recalls

Date: 17 May 2018   |   Author: Rachel Boagey

The SMMT's new tool diminishes the danger that lies ahead for fleets that don't check vehicles for outstanding safety recalls.

Amid a new investigation into reported safety issues with various BMW models, in which 300,000 UK cars have been recalled, a call has been issued for fleets and retailers to check vehicles for outstanding safety recalls or risk serious consequences. 

It comes from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), which, together with the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), is urging UK fleet operators to join the millions of consumers who have checked if their vehicles have an outstanding safety recall, to avoid potential penalties of a £20,000 fine or prison.

In the first three months of this year, the SMMT's online Vehicle Safety Recall Service was used 2.3 million times by drivers to check their car was safe. The online tool will be a godsend for fleets.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said, "The UK vehicle recall process is one of the most robust in the world and manufacturers are committed to ensuring vehicles remain safe throughout their life cycles, constantly striving to make the process even better. Our vehicle safety recall tool has already given peace of mind to millions of consumers and now it is supporting businesses, helping to keep fleets and retailers compliant, and vehicles safe on the road, by enabling entire fleets to be checked quickly and regularly."

Manufacturers work closely with the DVSA to ensure the UK has one of the world's most successful vehicle safety recall processes. However, recalls can be missed when a vehicle transfers between keepers so, in 2015, SMMT and its members developed a consumer-facing online look-up service to make it easier for individual drivers to check for themselves. The service has now been rolled out to meet specific commercial needs. 

For fleet owners, operators and businesses that provide fleet services, a vehicle with an outstanding recall could see insurance voided. Furthermore, the DVSA has the power to prosecute businesses that sell vehicles to consumers with an outstanding safety recall. Failure to check a car for an outstanding safety recall could lead to a fine of up to £20,000 and/or up to three months imprisonment.

To ensure every vehicle on a company's books is compliant, the SMMT has now launched a fleet-dedicated version of its Vehicle Safety Recall Service. 

The service provides a bulk automated look-up tool, allowing companies to check any size fleet and up to 100,000 vehicles in a single batch, whereas the online tool for consumers that already exists just allows one vehicle to be checked at a time. The service is fully automated too, with results usually returned within the hour, something that will be especially helpful to fleet managers. 

Safety recalls are issued by vehicle manufacturers, which are responsible for contacting owners to notify them that their car may have a problem that needs to be rectified by an authorised repairer. The General Product Safety Regulations 2005 say that dealers must fix vehicles with outstanding recalls before selling on to a consumer. If they do not, they can be prosecuted by Trading Standards.

All recall repair work linked to safety issues is free for customers and scheduled as a matter of urgency. A recall notice remains open indefinitely, to ensure as many cars as possible are sent back to dealers.

The SMMT's Vehicle Safety Recall Service is an easy way for fleet owners and retailers to check, all at once, if their vehicles are subject to a safety recall that they, or a previous owner, may have missed.

The Vehicle Safety Recall Service makes the checking process more manageable and gives peace of mind to fleet owners, operators and businesses that all of their vehicles are up to date and compliant,  the SMMT says.