Vehicle Recalls as Practiced

My low (chuckles->) mileage 2009 vehicle has been serviced by an independent brand specialist for the past 5 years. 2 years ago it started having a random emission system fault. The shop changed a part and told me if that did not fix it, it could be a $2-3,000 repair. Since it was only a periodic emissions fault I bought a device to read and reset the fault codes. Once reset the fault would not recur for tens to hundreds of kms so not a worry, but still a worry. That $2-3,000 was an intimidating number.

For reasons not germane here I decided to try a local shop this year, and reviewed the fault with them. They advised the engine is notorious for the fault, is used in multiple brands, and at least one manufacturer was known to provide financial support; they did not know about my manufacturer.

An email to the importer resulted in a ‘take it to XXXX’ and have it assessed for possible factory financial support. I did. The dealer shop explained the process and my potential worst case out of pocket. I decided to sign up for the diagnostic phase.

After they entered my details in their computer up popped 2 manufacturer campaigns on my vehicle, one being the source of my emissions fault and the other a potentially troublesome water pump, both to be fixed gratis and now booked in, and my details!

Points are:

  • Manufacturers are neither required nor seem inclined to proactively contact owners about recall campaigns;
  • Independent shops may or may not be aware of recalls and may or may not pass on information. It is a stretch to believe my speciality shop was not aware of a pervasive engine problem, although could have been unaware of factory support, but it questions whether there is value-added from shops proclaiming to be specialists as compared to just ‘good shops’. A hit or miss;
  • It can pay to contact your manufacturer to see about outstanding recalls on one’s vehicle, especially if you have a potentially expensive problem that could be a design or manufacturing issue.

Persistence pays off - a good story with a welcome outcome.

Sometimes convincing manufacturers there is even an issue seems incredibly difficult - Takata airbags for one, and another close to my interests is the BMW Fork Stanchion Issue which anecdotally was fantastic for sales of Honda, KTM, et al …


As you say Phil, the manufacturers tend to play their cards very close to their chests, and don’t tend to publicise recalls beyond the dealerships.

Even if they do know, independent auto repairers can’t do warranty work as the manufacturers will not supply warranty parts or cover the cost of repairs. Only manufacturers’ dealerships are empowered to do warranty work.

So it’s a deliberate disempowerment of non-dealership repairers that can potentially cost consumers a huge amount of money for repairs that should be covered by warranty.


Thanks for sharing the story @PhilT, hopefully the lessons will also help some other readers. Glad you got a good outcome too (and saved quite a packet $$$).


When I bought my new car 6 years ago there was a registration process I went through with the manufacturer (via the dealer) that provided the manufacture with my address and email details. It wasn’t compulsory, but I did provided my email address. Yes I get the occasional marketing email, but it proved it’s worth in the last couple of months. I received an email notifying me of a recall (not the airbag debacle) and then a letter this week about the same recall advising me it was urgent and what to do. The car is now booked in to rectify the issue. It’s worth while checking with your local dealer that the manufacturer has your contact details, even if you don’t get your car serviced by a dealer.


For sure @iam_61, thanks for sharing this tip :thumbsup:


I have found it interesting to compare the websites of Nissan Australia with Nissan Japan. ( The last four vehicles I have owned have been Nissans that were imported secondhand into Australia )

At, a search for recalls will take you to a page where you are then directed to the ACCC website to look for current recall notices.

At, you can simply enter the VIN for your vehicle, and it will return a page listing relevant recalls and whether each issue has yet been addressed with the vehicle.

In this instance, the Australian distributor can clearly do better. Much better.


How do you go for recalls overseas on imports? Does the local (Aust) Nissan honour them?


That’s a good question ! I’ve fortunately never had anything requiring recall attention after I’ve bought it.

My experience with local Nissan service centres has been good on the very rare occasions I’ve visited them - they have full access to the Japanese parts database and are happy to order items and have them delivered at whatever urgency one requires.

I suspect that they wouldn’t honour a recall repair for a vehicle not originally sold in Australia, but I might follow up and ask them !


As a mechanic I’ve worked for numerous auto manufacturer dealerships over the past 31 years and the level of customer service regarding recalls and repairs is still very poor. I’ve had to comply with some employer directives that I believe are immoral, such as “only fix issues that the customer complains about”.
Unfortunately the almighty dollar clouds peoples judgement, a customer trusts the repairer to inform them of any issues, sometimes recall checks are not conducted due to time constraints or just apathy.
Not all auto dealerships operate like this but too many do.
As an apprentice I was trained to put the customer first, I still do.
I encourage all customers to keep complaining until their issue is rectified.


My BMW motorcycle dealer has been excellent with recall notifications. Pity there has been so many. (At least 4)


Just a bit of advice, Recalls are for safety related issues and the manufacturer has an obligation to make reasonable efforts to contact a customer to implement a recall.

Other non safety related issues which are generally the subject of service campaigns and/or technical bulletins etc are really at the dealers discretion and although they should be all implemented at the appropriate servicing time sometimes are not.
There is a debate in the US with Congress which is likely to act to make what has been called propriety technical information from the manufacturers available to the aftermarket repair industry and the equipment owners.
This has become a major issue now that all new vehicles, trucks, tractors etc have huge amount of software coded in them.
Even in Trump’s heartland farmers are angry their John Deere, John Holland, Case, Caterpillar tractors have propriety code that requires returning sometime behemoth 6 wheel tractors/ harvesters diggers etc to their dealer for repairs. Mobile mechanics that traditionally fixed them in the field sometimes cannot do anything without this data.


The problem in Australia the dealers and manufacturers lobby group is the Federal Automobile Chamber of Commerce (FACC) which has enormous influence in Canberra and basically holds both parties like putty in their hands. The FACC don’t want any changes forced on its members that would upset their cosy status quo.
But unless this data that underpins modern vehicle manufacturing is available as vehicles become even more complex the aftermarket industry will shrink and like specialise into non hi-tech work.


I’ve got a Holden Commodore and get it serviced at a local independent mechanic, rather than the Holden Dealer.

Although I have received recall notices from Holden, I have also registered for email updates from ACCC Product Safety Aust (

Although, I may get a few emails for Holden cars other than my model, it is not many emails to worry about - and at least I know if i need to get anything fixed from the dealer at their cost, not mine!



As @tndkemp pointed out, there is a difference between a recall and a campaign. The product safety site covers recalls but not campaigns. My vehicle is covered by a campaign and is not a recall, so my repair is not listed.

Bottom line is one still needs to find out about campaigns from the dealer/manufacturer.


I’ve been a Choice subscriber long enough that I remember (and miss) the product recalls page at the back of the magazine. Would Choice consider bringing this back (although I’m guessing there’d be more than a single page of recalls per month these days)?


Thanks for the feedback Duncan, I’ll pass it along for consideration. And you’re right, there are quite a few notices flying around at any given time!


Just to correct this misconception I am a warranty manager for a dealership there two types of recalls, one a safety recall which is mandatory for the life of the vehicle as we are seeing with the airbag recalls where vehicles in scrap yards are having the airbags replaced, the other recall is a customer satisfaction recall where the manufacture has had a certain amount of claims for a problem which then relates to a service campaign.Today most manufactures have social media sites which inform customers of any recalls that there may be as well as by mail and in a lot of cases customers move and do not inform the manufactures of there address change so the manufactures have to go through the department of transport/Main roads to get the owners address.As far as disempowering non dealerships that is nonsense as most reputable non dealerships Midas,Ultra tune etc have access to the manufactures information the same as dealerships and have to pay for it under licence as dealerships have to.
Further with regard to recalls no dealership can lodge any warranty claims until they have completed any outstanding recalls. As for the reason only dealerships can do warranty work is that all new vehicles that are sold have an amount built into the price of the vehicle and the payment of the repair is made back to the dealership through there parts account and to add to that the times given to the dealerships are really minimal for example to replace a Subaru Impreza dash dealers are given 1.6 hours which in most cases is half the time it actually takes so I am not so sure that non dealers would be happy to take a loss doing warranty work.
I hope this clears up some of the misconceptions

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@BrendanMays, this is a case for Choiceman… or to be more precise for Choice to be raising its voice on and seeking consistency and transparency across the industry? It should not be up to the purchaser to have to go to a dealer to find out (possibly, given what @Techaddict has said) whether your vehicle needs repairs under a recall notice.

Is there a central location where one can find out whether one’s car is subject to a recall notice? Is there a central location where one can learn if one’s boat, trailer, wife, or kitchen appliances are subject to a recall notice? Is there any way in which a consumer could subscribe to be notified in relation to a category of, or all, recall notices?

Please feel free to tell me that all these things are in place - but it sounds somewhat worrying that such important information is held on a ‘need-to-know’ basis.


Thanks for the information Mike @mpi77440.

Please allow me to make some comments

It appears the gist of your comments is that about how difficult it is for the manufacturers. There may be a suggestion there that it is the customer’s responsibility to keep the dealers/manufacturers informed of their whereabouts. Just like every manufacturer of every product that has a major fault, or safety issue, it is the manufacturers responsibility to inform all users however the item/vehicle was bought.

In Australia there is no obligation on customers to keep the retailer/dealer/manufacturer informed of their address or their movements, but there is an obligation on the retailer/dealer/manufacturer to take all reasonable steps to inform users/owners via all mainstream media outlets, and on the broader social media.

While I am sure manufacturers would say that they are taking great efforts, I believe that those efforts to advise of safety issues seem inadequate.