Here’s the good news. Cars, in general, are better made and last longer than ever before. This means there are more older vehicles on the road. Now for the bad news. Defects involving those older vehicles do not have to be reported because of an arbitrary 10-year cutoff within the reporting law.
And the news becomes even worse, due to the fact that the average age of a vehicle in the U.S. is 11.4 years. So almost half the vehicles are no longer subject to the defect reporting requirements. While they remain on the road, they probably are not becoming safer.
This problematic because it means if there are defect problems that are exacerbated by age or wear, and become worse the older the car or truck becomes, regulators won’t know about it and as we have seen in the last few years, we cannot count on the manufacturers recognizing a problem and effectively dealing with the defect.
The deadly Takata air bag defect, which first appeared in Hondas, and has since been found in other manufacturers vehicles and the General Motors ignition switch defect percolated for years, with manufacturers either ordering miniscule, ineffective recalls (Honda) or pretending that there was no problem for almost a decade (GM).
With a greater number of older cars on the road, it is essential that they be tracked for defects. These vehicles may be used for years and owners may drive them unsuspecting of a defective air bag or ignition switch, which if it fails, could result in their death or serious injury.
Claimsjournal.com, “Possible Recall-Related Crashes Involving Vehicles 10 Years and Older Going Unreported,” Jeff Green and Margaret Cronin Fisk, May 4, 2015