NADA President Peter Welch Testifies at House Hearing on Vehicle Safety
WASHINGTON (Oct. 21, 2015) - The nation's franchised new-car dealers are integral to the completion of vehicle safety recalls, and support policies that would increase the recall completion rate to 100 percent, Peter Welch, president of the National Automobile Dealers Association, told a congressional panel considering motor vehicle safety legislation.
“The recall system Congress created depends on new-car dealers to fix the millions of vehicles that are now under recall. Last year our members performed 59 million warranty and recall repairs and we are set to break that record this year,” Welch told the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade. “For the owners of recalled vehicles, it is their local dealer who remedies the defect or nonconformance - and at no charge to the owner.”
Welch also explained to members of the committee that back-ordered repair parts and recall notices that are disregarded by consumers are the two main reasons why completion rates lag, pointing out that it's not unusual for a dealer to wait 60 days or more for a back-ordered recall repair part. In some instances, repair parts can be unavailable for over a year.
But despite these obstacles, Welch reiterated that the goal of the nation's franchised new-car dealers is to help the recall completion rate rise from its current level of about 75 percent.
Welch highlighted problems with proposals to ground all rental and used cars under open recall, pointing out that doing so would also ground recalled vehicles for minor compliance matters, such as a wrong phone number in the owner's manual. NHTSA was asked during the hearing to provide its data on the safety benefits of grounding rental and used cars under open recall to the committee.
Welch also encouraged the committee to urge the improvement of NHTSA's recall database. The current system is designed for single vehicle look-ups by a consumer, not for commercial use. NHTSA should be required to upgrade its recall database to allow dealerships to automatically check, on a daily basis, which used vehicles in inventory are under open recall.
"A tool that is searchable, automated and can batch multiple requests is critical to identifying open recall vehicles and getting them fixed," Welch said.