Shawn Ly preforms routine maintenance on a vehicle at Carl Hogan Toyota on Friday afternoon. Recall work is a near daily occurrence at car dealerships across the Golden Triangle. More than one in four vehicles on Columbus roadways have open recalls, according to a recent study. Photo by: Deanna Robinson/Dispatch Staff
July 3, 2017 9:53:59 AM
A recently launched website is encouraging drivers to check for open recalls on their vehicles.
That could be especially important for places like Columbus, which statistics show has one of the highest rate of vehicles with open recalls on the road in the state.
Check to Protect is a collaborative campaign between the National Safety Council and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles US. A website for the initiative, www.checktoprotect.org, launched in late June.
The website allows users to enter their 17-digit vehicle identification number (VIN) and will check to see if any recalls are out on the vehicle. The VIN can frequently be found on the dashboard, near the steering wheel and is visible through the windshield. VINs are also often located inside the driver's door.
Check to Protect Spokesperson Jennifer Kohl said FCA contacted the National Safety Council while attempting to raise more awareness about recalls. The partnership led to the creation of the website.
"This is particularly targeting people who have older and used cars, for a few reasons," Kohl said. "One is sometimes you buy a used car from a person, rather than a dealership, and it's hard to know what recalls are out.
"Another is that once a car is out of warranty, people stop taking it to authorized dealers and might go to the cheap mechanic on the corner," she added. "They might not have an updated database (for recalls)."
Kelly Nantell, vice president of the National Safety Council, said recalls affect older vehicles much more than newer ones. Vehicles that are up to five years old have an 83 percent recall work completion rate, she said. For those that are five to 10 years old, the rate falls to 44 percent.
One out of every four vehicles on the road has an open recall, according to statistics from Carfax. The total number jumped from 47 million in 2016 to an estimated 67 million this year.
Mississippi has the third-highest percentage of vehicles with open recalls in the nation, at 27.44 percent. The state is behind only Texas (27.98 percent) and Hawaii (27.85 percent), according to Carfax's figures.
Columbus has the ninth-highest rate in the state. Carfax reports 26 percent of the vehicles on the road in the city have open recalls. That's up from 19 percent in 2016.
Columbus is the only city in the Golden Triangle to make the top 10 in the state. Other Mississippi cities include Gulfport (30 percent); Olive Branch (29 percent); Hattiesburg (29 percent); Jackson (29 percent); Biloxi (28 percent); Tupelo (28 percent); Brandon (27 percent); Southaven (26 percent); and Meridian (26 percent).
Motorists with a recall on their car can take it to the corresponding brand dealership to have the issue fixed. The process is free, and local service departments are no strangers to doing recall work.
Bryan Waller, service manager for Carl Hogan Toyota in Columbus, said they get have recall-related work almost daily.
"I've worked here 11 years, and the number one thing I've heard people say is 'I've never had that issue,'" Waller said. "But other people have. To prevent you from having that issue, you'll want to get it checked on. It doesn't cost you anything but time."
Mac Smith, service adviser at Parker-McGill Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram in Starkville, said the dealership also sees recall work daily.
He said most of the work comes from people who get recall notifications in the mail. It can be more difficult, he said, for people with used cars to get notifications.
"You'll have people who buy a car from someone else, and the mail goes out to who the vehicle was registered to," he said. "They say, 'that doesn't belong to me anymore,' and chunk it in the trash."
Waller and Smith said their respective dealerships automatically check cars for recalls when they're brought in for service. And while they acknowledged that websites can be helpful, they said they aren't foolproof should be used in conjunction with contacting a dealership.
"My recommendation would be for someone to call their local dealer to check to see if the car has a recall," Waller said. "I know there are other sites, but no one is going to know better than your local dealer."
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