The Australian Government regulates a wide range of products to ensure an acceptable level of consumer safety. For motor vehicles, parts, and accessories, this can include ensuring compliance with the requirements of the Australian Design Rules for Road Vehicles or other standards.
Where a safety or compliance issue is identified, the vehicle or product may be subject to recall.
The product’s manufacturer or distributor generally voluntarily conducts recalls, but there is provision for the government to investigate and order a recall if necessary.
How are consumers notified?
In the event of a motor vehicle recall, the owner will generally be contacted by mail and invited to return the vehicle to have it repaired free of charge. A recall notice will also appear in major newspapers, and on the government’s recall website
For products that are difficult to track, such as vehicle stands, ramps, or accessories, a recall notice will be placed in major newspapers and on the recall website.
Recall notices are required to have a standard layout.
Their characteristics include:
- A hatched border with the safety triangle in the upper left hand corner
- A minimum size of 12 cm x 3 columns
- The headline “Product Safety Recall”
- The words “See productsafety.gov.au (or www.recalls.gov.au) for Australian product recall information”
The notice generally also includes the following information:
- Including the name, make and model and any distinguishing features. It could also include batch or serial numbers and dates the product was available for sale.
- The product’s description
- A picture of the product
- A description of the defect
- A statement of the hazard
- A description of the maximum potential hazard and associated risk.
- A section titled “What to do”
- For example, “(the manufacturer’s name) will contact all affected customers by mail. Customers will be advised to present their vehicle to their preferred (the manufacturer’s name) Dealer for inspection and repair at no charge”
- A section titled “Contact details”
- This explains who consumers should contact to receive a refund or have the product repaired or replaced.
- Recalls are only conducted for safety related, or compliance reasons. That is, a defect which will or may cause injury to any person, or in a situation where the vehicle / product does not comply with a legal requirement.
- Defects solely arising from misuse, abuse, non-compliance with servicing and other maker’s instructions, modification, etc. could be excluded.
- Reliability and durability issues, or characteristics not affecting safety would also be excluded.
- Recalls are carried out irrespective of the vehicle or product’s warranty status.
- Before a recall is issued, evidence must exist to show that it is common to a number of vehicles or products. A single incident or failure would rarely result in a recall.
Identifying if a vehicle or product has been recalled
- Visit the website. The recall list goes back several years. Note that the recalls are listed by the year they were issued rather than by the year the vehicle or product was manufactured or sold.
- Identifying if a particular vehicle has been recalled can be more difficult. In most cases, it will be necessary to contact its manufacturer or dealer and quote the Vehicle Identification Number so it can be checked against the manufacturer’s records.
- For products or accessories you will need to seek advice from the party listed on the recall notice.
If you suspect a vehicle or product has a serious safety defect arising from a manufacturing fault, or is non-compliant, bring the matter to the government’s attention via its website.