Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has joined Honda in trying a new way to reach owners with recalled Takata airbags — when they seek collision repair estimates — and prompt them to get the dangerous inflators replaced.
Related: Is Your Car Part of the Takata Airbag Recall?
FCA is partnering with CCC Information Services, a provider of collision repair and estimate software to body shops, to notify owners of the open recalls when they bring a car in for crash repairs. FCA joins Honda , which has been working with CCC for a year as part of its arsenal of nontraditional methods of tracking down owners who have not responded to traditional mailed recall notices for Takata airbags.
The software provider says that thousands of collision repair shops use its CCC One platform to write millions of repair estimates each year. Using vehicle identification number recall data from the automakers, the software can generate an automatic open recall alert when an estimate is written for that car and provide information for the owner that includes, depending on the automaker's instructions, a copy of the recall notice, a customer service phone number and other customized information.
"To date, we've detected over a million recalled vehicles on our platform," said Jim Kinsherf, vice president for CCC's automaker group.
That figure includes more than more than 50,000 FCA vehicles in the U.S. since the automaker went live on the platform in August.
The remainder are Honda , which has the largest number of vehicles affected by the Takata recall that already involves nearly 30 million inflators and will cover 64 to 69 million by the time the phased recall is fully implemented in 2019. Takata's ammonium-nitrate inflators can degrade over time from exposure to heat and humidity and explode with too much force, spewing shrapnel into the cabin.
Significantly, Kinsherf said the vehicles-detected total includes some of the hardest ones to find.
"One of the highest drivers for that is older vehicles," he said. "These people are difficult to reach. Usually these are second or third owners and the OEM has lost contact."
And apparently, they aren't ignoring the warnings, he said.
"We provide proactive alerts at the body shop and, as a result, we've seen a lot more going back to the dealer to get them fixed," Kinsherf said.
Encouraging owners of older vehicles is important because recall repair completion rates drop sharply with age of a vehicle: from 83 percent for new vehicles to 44 percent for those 5 to 10 years old, and to 29 percent for those older than 10 years, according to the Alliance for Automobile Manufacturers, which also notes that the average car on the road is 11.4 years old. In the Takata recall, the National Highway Traffic Safety Ad Mini stration has singled out a particular group of older 2001-03 Honda and Acura vehicles as being at highest risk.
As of Sept. 29, according to NHTSA, the repair completion rate for the Takata airbag inflators recalled so far stands at 45.6 percent, with 19,031,261 airbags fixed. Honda , which has had more Honda and Acura vehicles under recall and for a longer time, has repaired 11,266,666, or 63.75 percent. FCA has repaired 2,464,137, or 28.07 percent.
The partnerships with CCC have been prompted by the huge, and potentially fatal, Takata problem — but are not limited to that, Kinsherf said. Automaker partners can designate other serious recalls for the automatic alerts.
Owners can check dedicated FCA and Honda sites for more Takata recall information and to check their vehicles. Owners also can use the recall search tool maintained by NHTSA for all open recalls by VIN.