Any Issue with Your Vehicle? Operation of the Car Recall System in Canada

Canada's vehicle recall system works
Canada’s vehicle recall system works

From the beginning of 2024, the Transport Canada database displays nearly 680 vehicle recalls.

It often seems like there’s a news about a significant car recall every other day, including everything from malfunctioning airbags and seatbelts to broken pedals.

Owners of the 2002–2006 Nissan Sentra, 2002–2004 Nissan Pathfinder, and 2002–2003 Infiniti QX4 cars received a “do not drive” alert from Nissan on Wednesday. According to a representative, this recall affects 48,000 vehicles in Canada.

According to the spokesman, the recall was a part of a larger effort that started in 2017 and aimed to “encourage drivers to complete the free recall repair” as well as raise awareness of the dangers of operating cars with Takata-brand airbag inflator defects.

Related Article: Nissan warns owners of around 84,000 older cars with recalled airbags to “do not drive.”

When an automobile has a “do not drive” notice, it should not be driven until the recall is over and the faulty components have been changed.

Since the beginning of 2024, there have been over 680 vehicle recalls, according to a Transport Canada recall database. These recalls have affected a wide range of vehicles, including heavy-duty semi-trailer trucks, private passenger automobiles, and school buses.

According to a study the agency issued this summer, there were 6.6 million “unsafe” automobiles on Canadian roads due to unresolved safety recalls; older cars were more likely to be included in this group.

The dilemma of whether you must bring your car in for a recall or, if your model permits, if you may update the car remotely arises as automotive technology advances.

This is all the information you need to know about Canada’s recall system, including how to make sure a safety recall isn’t due for your vehicle.

What liability does the manufacturer have?

As mandated by federal legislation in Canada, automakers have sixty days from the time they discover a problem that may jeopardise a person’s safety to notify car owners in writing of a recall.

The owner must be informed of the fault and any potential safety hazards via the safety recall notice, which should also explain how to resolve the problem and include a list of steps the owner may take to reduce risk until the remedy is finished.

Transport Canada emailed CBC News, saying, “There are no timing requirements in the [Motor Vehicle Safety Act] or the rules for a corporation to have a solution ready when a notice of fault is delivered.”

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Additionally, each notice’s details are published by Transport Canada in the Motor Vehicle Safety Recalls Database. The Recalls and Safety Alerts system of the Government of Canada also disseminates information about these recalls.”

How do you find out whether there has been a recall for your car?

Although it is the responsibility of the manufacturer to notify drivers whose cars have been recalled, Kristine D’Arbelles, senior director of public relations at the Canadian Automobile Association (CAA), claims that manufacturers frequently lack the most recent information.

Because their vehicles are sold through a network of dealerships that are independently held businesses, manufacturers very rarely genuinely have a client list when it comes to the Canadian auto buying system, according to D’Arbelles.

Another issue is that there is a sizable used automobile market in Canada. People purchase these vehicles from dealerships, Kijiji, and Facebook Marketplace. This implies that it may be challenging for a manufacturer to get in touch with the car’s current owner if the name and contact details associated with it are out of date.

For this and other reasons, CAA has requested that Transport Canada create a database where drivers may enter their vehicle identifying number (VIN) and look up recalls.

VIN look-up facilities are available on websites like Carfax Canada and from several major automakers, including Ford, General Motors, and Toyota. Nissan encourages owners of affected vehicles to utilise its VIN lookup feature as well.

However, it may take some time before you receive a call if you’re waiting for one. D’Arbelles advises drivers to often check if a recall has been issued for their vehicle.

Businesses without that particular equipment may allow you to look up the brand, model, and year of your car. However, the result may advise you to travel to the closest dealership to check if your vehicle is affected.

“I wouldn’t suggest that someone must complete that task every week or even every month. Perhaps it’s each time you get an oil change or have a checkup done on your car,” D’Arbelles said.

Are recalls happening more frequently?

In order to determine if the growing popularity of electricity-powered cars resulted in any notable safety recall trends, a team including an engineering specialist from the University of Waterloo studied recall processes in Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom.

“It’s quite reasonable that there has been a noticeable shift in recalls from mechanical malfunctions to software issues,” stated Sebastian Fischmeister, an electrical and computer engineering professor at the University of Waterloo.

Approximately 100 computers are located within a motor vehicle to regulate various vehicle operations. Additionally, the quantity of computers or computer functions in cars will rise dramatically as automation and autonomy expand.

“That naturally has the effect of reducing the number of mechanical flaws and increasing the number of software problems.”

Has automotive technology led to changes in vehicle recalls?

“The structure of a recall remains the same, even though there are several approaches to solving or fixing recalls,” D’Arbelles stated. “A recall is a recall is no matter what kind of car it is—old, new, electric, hybrid, or internal combustion engine vehicle.”

Certain safety recalls may be as easy as the manufacturer issuing an over-the-air software update, which allows them to update your car’s software remotely without requiring you, the driver, to do anything.

Since being invented more than ten years ago by American electric carmaker Tesla, they have grown more and more widespread. Usually, the modifications take place over night.

However, according to Statistic Canada’s Canadian Vehicle Survey, the average age of the fleet of automobiles on Canadian roadways is ten years old.

D’Arbelles remarked, “So if you think about it, there are still people driving around in 2014 automobiles.” Not every one of those vehicles has remote update capability.

Replacement components may be necessary for further recalls, however there is now a scarcity of supply, which makes things difficult.

According to D’Arbelles, “the aftermarket for car repairs is still suffering from the epidemic and is having problems procuring components on time and still has [a] backlog.”

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