Given the logistical challenges and financial repercussions, a recall by any vehicle manufacturer becomes a fairly costly affair, especially for its goodwill and reputation.
The high profile ones like the Takata airbag recall and Volkswagen's Dieselgate scandal or the more recent ones like three Maruti Suzuki models, haven't helped with their image. But more often than not automakers will recall vehicles to fix minor defects that can creep in during the complex design or manufacturing process.
A recall is usually a voluntary recall of the affected vehicles by the automaker itself, normally without any directive from government authorities. Although, a string of complaints from vehicle owners can still be reason enough to call for one. The objective is usually to prevent damage to the car or reduce the risk of injury or death among passengers or other road users.
Looking at the past of automotive recalls in India, there was no legal provision to cover it in the country till 2019. Recalls were voluntarily initiated by automakers as per a set of guidelines issued by the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM).
But changes were made to the Motor Vehicles Act as well as a new Consumer Protection Act was put in place that brought automotive recalls under the legal purview. Under these new laws, the central government can order an automaker to recall a vehicle if there is evidence that the defect may cause harm to the environment, occupants or road users.
An automaker may also be asked to recall a vehicle if the government is notified of defects from a percentage of vehicle owners the government specifies, or from any other source including testing agencies. All units of a vehicle can be recalled by the government, irrespective of the variant or type.
The government also has the power to levy fines or direct a carmaker to replace affected vehicles entirely although this isn't the case with voluntary recalls.
In a recent recall, Maruti Suzuki India Limited (MSIL) had recalled 9,925 units of the Maruti Suzuki Wagon R, Celerio and Ignis to rectify a possible defect in the rear brake assembly pin on cars manufactured between August 3 and September 1, 2022.
The company said that it will replace the faulty part out of precaution and safety of customers free of cost. Customers of the affected vehicles will be contacted by Maruti Suzuki service centres. The required repair work will be conducted post-inspection, if necessary, announced MSIL.