In March of 2016, Volvo Trucks of North America issued a recall on nearly 20,000 trucks because of an issue with the upper steering shaft.
Just a couple months later, roughly 3,200 Kenworth and Peterbilt trucks were recalled due to a defect with their Cummins engines.
Unfortunately, recalls are a part of life in the automotive and transportation industries. For trucking companies and fleet managers, they are major inconveniences that can put a costly gridlock into your operations. When handled properly, however, a recall can be less intrusive and disruptive.
Take the right steps swiftly, and your operations will barely register the recall.
First of all, we need to emphasize that all recalls are important, even the ones that seem the most inconsequential. For example, a recall could be as minor as replacing an information sticker on the truck. This new sticker, a small item indeed, might provide different PSI guidelines for the fully-loaded tractor. If the sticker isn’t replaced and the truck has a blowout, suddenly the sticker becomes a major factor for both safety and legal ramifications. No matter how seemingly unimportant, never ignore a recall.
Once you understand the recall and the vehicles effected, communicate this information to your team and let them know that these vehicles are off limits until properly repaired. It’s too important for the longevity of your business and the safety of your drivers to continue using these vehicles. It’s important to get them off the road as soon as possible.
While you’re in communication mode, be sure to relay this information to your clients, so they understand how and why the recall is occurring. Be as transparent as possible. Let them know that while you’re doing everything possible to keep operations running, there is a chance that the recall could impact their shipments. (It’s best to communicate potential problems and have nothing go wrong than to say nothing and have major issues.)
SafeCar.gov is a program created by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that allows vehicle owners to search for recalls by Vehicle Identification Numbers. If you receive a notice and suspect your trucks might be part of the recall, simply enter the vehicle’s VIN and you’ll be shown information on current and past recalls. This can be a valuable tool for taking out the guess work and determining whether your fleet is affected.
For most recalls, the repairs can be made at the dealership where the vehicle was purchased. You may have an in-house mechanic who can solve the issue, but taking it to a dealership gives you two benefits. First, payment for the recall repair will be handled entirely by the manufacturer, usually through direct compensation to the dealership. You won’t have to pay a dime in most cases. Second, having the recall handled by the dealership’s factory-certified technicians will maintain any current warranties which could be voided if an uncertified mechanic handles the repair.
Throughout the entire process, be sure to document the recall and what steps you’ve taken, all the way up to registering completion of the repairs. By keeping detailed documents, you can provide information related to when the recall was implemented, how much time was needed, and what costs they brought to your business. This information can be crucial for many reasons, including accounting, legal, and insurance purposes.
This is a long-term approach to managing recalls and vehicle issues in general. Let’s say you have 20 vehicles in your commercial trucking fleet that are all of the same make and model. If they are all involved in a recall, you’re suddenly left with zero vehicles to conduct business. Even if ten of them are the same, that’s 50% of your freight-moving capability. By keeping a variety of vehicles in your fleet, you reduce the chance of a recall impacting your business. Obviously this is not the easiest or quickest step to implement, but it’s something to consider the next time you begin the truck-purchasing process.