Car Buyers' Guide: Vehicle recall guide

Nissan's recall may only affect a limited range of vehicles

The Nissan Lafesta was affected by recall.
The Nissan Lafesta was affected by recall.

The Dilema: Graham owns a 2005 Nissan Lafesta but is worried after 900,000 of the cars were recently recalled globally due to throttle programming.

"I was just wondering who is responsible for product recalls in regards to Japanese imports," asks Graham.

Well Graham, my understanding is the recall affects a number of different Nissan models sold in the domestic market in Japan including the Lafesta as well as some other models sold in the US (almost 100,000) and Oceania.

It is reported the recall relates to a possible faulty electronic throttle sensor which may develop a fault creating a lack of acceleration or an engine stall condition.

As your Lafesta was originally assembled and sold for the Japanese domestic market, it is possible it is part of this recall campaign but then again it may not. Often a recall campaign is targeted to a specific range of vehicles rather than an entire production run.

For example, an electronic component such as a throttle angle sensor may be sourced by the assembly plant concerned from more than one supplier to ensure an uninterrupted supply is guaranteed.

If a problem is detected after assembly which results in a recall campaign being carried out, the first task is to identify the affected range of vehicles.

The whole procedure of checking whether a recall affects a particular make/model of vehicle is made much easier when a vehicle is sold new in NZ.

All the relevant information is made available to the local distributors and their respective network around the country very quickly when any safety-related recall campaign is instigated.

For used imports, it can become a little more difficult.

The Motor Industry Association (MIA) is the voice of the new vehicle industry in NZ. It is currently made up of some 33 members representing the official distributors of new passenger cars, light and heavy commercials and motorcycles. One of its main responsibilities is to provide a unified point of view on a number of different issues including vehicle safety, consumer standards and codes of practice.

Some of the key points of the MIA Code of Conduct (www.mia.org.nz/recalls.asp) relating to safety-related recalls for used imported vehicles which have been imported by persons other than MIA members are:

•The code is voluntary and is triggered by the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) accepting a recall for NZ. In other words, if there is a recall pertaining to the local Japanese domestic market, the relevant OEM distributor in conjunction with their Japanese parent company may initiate a safety related recall campaign in NZ.

•In general terms, New Zealand law (and in particular the Consumer Guarantees Act 1986, the Fair Trading Act 1993, and the Vehicle Standards Compliance Rule 2002) places responsibility upon the importer and trader of used vehicles to ensure that those vehicles are safe. Traders and importers of used vehicles provide those vehicles to consumers subject to a statutory guarantee that the vehicle is safe. Traders of used vehicles, or the importers of those vehicles are therefore fully responsible for all safety-related recalls and all costs associated with the rectification of used vehicles they have imported.

In summary, the MIA code applies to safety-related recall campaigns initiated by the MIA member and which have also been accepted by the NZTA as a safety-related recall.

In some other cases, owners of used imports should as their first step, seek assistance from the original importer and trader of the vehicle.

Of course, this type of action becomes difficult if the vehicle has changed ownership several times since its first registration in NZ or, the recall campaign is launched after the vehicle was landed and made roadworthy in NZ.

The one positive in all this is, the code places minimum expectations on MIA members and each individual OEM distributor may do more than what is in the code.

Another website worth noting has been developed by the NZ Transport Agency to assist in the identification and management of vehicle-related safety recalls. It has been developed with the co-operation of the MIA and the Ministry of Consumer Affairs:

www.vehiclerecallsafety.nzta.govt.nz Nissan NZ has advised Driven that relevant information will be posted on the NZTA website within the month. Any owner who has a concern can then visit a Nissan dealer where the vehicle will be checked and rectified if necessary.

- NZ Herald

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