Inside a Lexus recall: everything you need to know

As a responsible code of practice linked to consumer protection and safety, recalls occur throughout the manufacturing industry.

According to the Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), the government agency responsible for the UK Automotive Safety Recall Scheme, a vehicle safety recall is “the action taken when a [safety] defect is identified… that could result in a risk of serious injury.”

Lexus takes a safety recall very seriously. As such, where Lexus recalls are concerned, most are initiated as a result of the company’s own investigations, rather than the intervention of the DVSA or other third party.

Worldwide, our technical experts undertake thorough investigations and compile detailed reports on any issues experienced with Lexus cars, even many years after their original launch. With customer safety the top priority, Lexus will take the initiative, whenever necessary, to prompt a recall through the official channels. They help continually raise Lexus’ levels of quality and reliability and also serve to highlight improvements that could not have been foreseen during manufacture or extensive development programmes.

Once initiated and a car recall has been confirmed, the DVSA has the right to publish a public report, identifying the vehicle manufacturer, component, or parts supplier concerned. Also at this time most manufacturers release a statement to the media.

It is then the responsibility of the manufacturer to take all reasonable steps to make contact with the owners of affected vehicles. In line with its commitment to customer care, one of Lexus’ first activities is to set up a vehicle look up facility (called the Lexus recall lookup).

This allows customers to enter a registration or vehicle identification number to ascertain if their vehicle if affected. It can be found by clicking on the following link:

http://www.lexus.co.uk/owners/reference-library/#/RecallInformation

While this process is extremely thorough a consequence could be a significant delay from the time an owner of an affected vehicle is made aware of a recall to the time the repairs or modifications are actually carried out.

For example, it can take up to 20 days for the Driver & Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) to supply the manufacturer with the postal addresses of all registered owners. Also the precise wording of all communications between the owner and the manufacturer describing the recall has to be agreed.

Time is also required by manufacturers to notify and sometimes train the service centres, manufacture and supply new components and repair tools, set up customer care hotlines and make allowances for postage times for the recall letters. All in all, from media announcement through to the actual repair, it can in some instance take up to six weeks.

Safety recalls are monitored by the DVSA every three months. All safety recall repairs are carried out by official dealers, who then will advise the DVSA of all the completed vehicles.

Frequently asked questions:
How many vehicle safety recalls are issued every year?

Information from the DVSA shows that from over 40 vehicle manufacturers represented in the UK there were in total 225 safety recalls in 2012, affecting 1,074,446 vehicles. In 2013 this number fell to 167 but affected 1,110,305 vehicles. We do not have figures for 2014 yet.

Why can there sometimes be a delay between hearing about a safety recall via the media and receiving a notification letter from the manufacturer?
The DVSA has the right to publish notification of a safety recall immediately after the conclusion of its investigation. However, the manufacturer needs up to six weeks to gather vehicle keeper information from the DVLA, publish a warranty bulletin for the dealers, complete regional training if necessary, arrange the distribution of new components, and notify the registered owner by letter.

Why do we tend to hear about safety recalls from some manufacturers more than than others?
Historically, hundreds of safety recalls are carried out each year but manufacturers can choose whether to publicise their existence. The Toyota Motor Corporation, of which Lexus is a part, prides itself on the transparency of its operations, and the safety of its vehicles is paramount. If a fault occurs, we want people to know that the issue is being resolved as quickly as possible and that every effort is taken to repair affected vehicles, irrespective of whether they are currently being maintained within the dealer network.

How effective is Toyota’s handling of safety recalls?
Toyota GB’s (including Lexus) handling of recalls is extremely effective. On average and across all manufacturers in the industry, 91.7 per cent of owners with affected cars are contacted and the repairs completed. Toyota’s average is over 93 per cent.

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