Many vehicle owners worry about sales pressure if they respond to recalls

Millions of vehicle owners who don’t respond to recall notices are worried that dealerships will try to sell them additional repairs during their visit.

That’s based on a survey by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI).

The UMTRI survey, which involved more than 500 participants, found that nearly four in 10 were worried about sales pressure – the highest response rate among 10 concerns cited – and even more than not having access to the vehicle while it’s getting repaired.

050417 IL Many vehicle owners worry about sales pressure if they respond to recalls

Overall, nearly 20 percent of vehicle owners don’t respond to recall notices, according to data from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration – about 10 million each of the last three years.

“There is general recognition of the problem of low response rates,” UMTRI’s Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle said in their report, Consumer Preferences Regarding Vehicle-Related Safety Recalls, which also suggested possible ways to increase response to recall notices.

Besides worrying about sales pressure (38.4 percent) and loss of access to a recalled vehicle while it’s getting repaired (37.2 percent), the UMTRI survey found these concerns preventing response to recalls:

  • Having to wait too long to get vehicle repaired (35.9 percent);
  • Uncertainty over importance of actually getting the repair (30 percent);
  • Not knowing when (or how soon) repairs are necessary (26.4 percent);
  • Uncertainty over whether the recall applies to owner’s specific vehicle (26.2 percent);
  • Not knowing what to do or who to contact after receiving a notice (25.8 percent);
  • Uncertainty over whether repairs are optional or required (22.5 percent);
  • Not having experienced the problem described in the recall (19.4 percent).

Other findings relevant to dealers in the UMTRI survey include:

Effect of vehicle age, safety risk and distance to repair facility

  • Owners are more likely to get “relatively new vehicles” repaired (82.8 percent who rated importance at 10 on a 10-point scale) and “relatively old vehicles” (50.4 percent).
  • Vehicle owners who perceived a higher risk level (10 on a 10-point scale) were two to three times as likely to get repairs as owners who perceived a lower risk level.
  • Survey respondents who resided less than 15 minutes away from a repair facility were about 20 percent more likely to respond to a recall notice than those 15 minutes or more away.
  • The less time it takes to schedule recall repairs the more likely owners are to get them done.

Sivak and Schoettle also reported on vehicle owners’ preferred methods for recall notifications and the options that could increase likelihood that they will respond to recalls.

Preferred method for notification safety recalls

Mail (73.8 percent) and email (64.3) percent were most favored by far.

A third or fewer respondents favored notification via text message, notification at dealership when service is performed, phone call, advertising campaigns or public-service announcements, notification during vehicle registration or inspection, or other methods.

Options increasing likelihood of responding to recalls

Ability to go to any of the manufacturer’s dealerships (58.9 percent), ability to bundle recall repairs with regularly scheduled service or maintenance (52.1 percent), some type of incentive such as a free oil change or free gas fill up (50.6 percent), or ability to use own mechanic or repair shop (42.1 percent).

Of course, it ultimately is up to the vehicle owner whether he/she gets a recalled vehicle repaired. But that doesn’t mean you can’t give the reluctant ones a nudge.

For your dealership, it could be a win-win, creating customer goodwill and more revenue.

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