Friday, May 24

Automakers sending contractors door-to-door to warn of ‘ticking time bomb’ in recalled vehicles

Automakers are going to great lengths to let customers know if their vehicle might not be safe to drive.

When someone knocked on a Boynton Beach familys front door offering to fix their recalled Jeep, the family reached out to WPTV, thinking theyd encountered a scam.

Who comes out to your house to do this kind of stuff, asked Debinique Sadler, after she got a knock on her door in February.

The visitor urged Sadler to get the recalled airbag in her 2008 Jeep Wrangler fixed as soon as possible.

Sadler made an appointment for a technician to come to her house to make the repair. She was told she didnt even need to be home, as long as the door was unlocked.

That was the first red flag. Then, her husband called the Jeep dealership in Delray Beach.

That call does not come from us. We would not do anything like that, said a dealership employee in a voicemail message to the Sadlers, who shared the recording with WPTV.

That’s when we called you guys and said, you know, can y’all investigate? Sadler said.

WPTV was there when the technician showed up to replace Sadlers recalled airbag. He had the replacement part with him, and provided detailed information about the recall and his employers.

“Yeah, it’s a little unusual, said Gina Crouch, the recall program director for MarketSource, a company contracted by Stellantis and other automakers specifically to alert customers about outstanding airbag recalls.

Stellantis is the parent company of Jeep, Chrysler, Dodge and other automotive brands.

The recall dates back to 2015, when Takata airbags were found to be defective. Crouch said the inflators were prone to explode and send dangerous shrapnel flying.

There’s been 36 deaths worldwide, over 400 injuries. So, we’re trying to help them get those vehicles repaired. So, it doesn’t happen to these customers, Crouch explained. If you were in a head-on collision that caused like the regular force to cause the airbag to come out. Instead of it just protecting you it would kill you or injure you.

The 2015 recall impacted 19 vehicle manufacturers spanning the automotive industry, accounting for more than 34 million vehicles in the United States. It was the largest and most complex safety recall in history, according to the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration.

The agency, in official documents outlining the recall, call the airbags “ticking time bombs.”

Crouch said the house calls only happen after the customer receives mailers about the recalls and still have not gotten their airbag inflator replaced.

Most people aren’t unfortunately reading the mailers. And in those situations, it takes that like face-to-face contact to say, ‘Hey, this is what it is what you need to get done, she said.

While Crouch admits the home visits are often met with skepticism, like Sadlers, theyve led to more than 70,000 repaired Stellantis vehicles.

It’s a little challenging, but it’s really rewarding, Crouch said. Because we do really get to impact someone’s life, and we can save a customer save the family. And that’s why we do it.

Sadler concedes, she may have received mailers for the Jeep and dismissed them as junk mail. She and her husband ultimately chose to get their vehicle repaired at the dealership, out of an abundance of caution.

You really have to go with your gut, and sometimes you could be right, you could be wrong, Sadler said. I still say (Id rather) be safe than sorry.

If a stranger knocks with an urgent warning about your car, how do you know you can trust them?

Crouch said the visitor should be wearing an identification badge, and have business cards and detailed information to show you. That should include phone numbers to call with any questions.

You can also check to see if your vehicle has any outstanding recalls by going to

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