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Vehicle recalls increase sharply in 2015

The number of vehicle owners in Minnesota and around the country who received recall notices went up sharply in 2014, and regulators say that the flood of recalls shows no signs of ebbing. The number of safety issues and the volume of cars, pickup trucks and SUVs involved has placed a great deal of strain on the auto dealerships expected to make needed repairs, and car makers are finding it difficult to comply with federal regulations that require consumers to be informed about defects in a timely manner.

According to government figures, the 64 million vehicles recalled in 2014 represents four full years of U.S. auto sales and was more than double the number recalled in any prior year. General Motors was the first auto maker to announce widespread recalls after reports emerged connecting fatal accidents with faulty ignition switches, but soon Ford, Toyota and Honda were recalling millions of vehicles due to concerns over faulty airbags.

Fiat Chrysler was ordered to pay a $105 million penalty in July 2015 for violating the rules governing how recalls are announced and administered. The penalty is the largest ever handed out by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for auto recall malfeasance. The agency says that the owners of more than a half million Fiat Chrysler vehicles with potentially dangerous suspension parts will now be able to sell their vehicles back to the company. Fiat Chrysler says that most of the vehicles concerned have already been repaired.

Consumers expect the cars and trucks they buy to be safe and fit for the purpose intended, and they may want to consider pursuing civil remedies when defective parts or workmanship cause them to suffer injury, loss or damage. An attorney with experience in defective product litigation could assess the merits of such a lawsuit and explain how calling upon experts in automotive manufacturing and road safety could be important when facing defendants with deep pockets.

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