Honda and Toyota recalls – your questions answered

Millions of motorists face uncertainty this week, as two major car manufacturers started to recall certain models amid concerns over their safety.

So which cars are being recalled and what are your rights? Will your insurance cover the drive to the dealer or should you refuse to get behind the wheel? Can you cancel an existing order over safety concerns?

We answer your pressing questions.

What’s happened?

There's been a lot going on with this story, so here's a quick recap:

The beleaguered car manufacturers have been hit by a series of embarrassing safety concerns, promoting vehicle recalls costing billions of pounds.

First up, Toyota identified that some of its new vehicles had issues with the accelerator pedal, following reports that some were sticking and causing the cars to speed up uncontrollably.

Hot on the heels of that disaster, Toyota revealed that some drivers of its latest generation Prius had reported brake failure when driving in cold and bumpy conditions. Drivers hit the brakes but the car didn't instantly respond.

Shortly after this, Honda announced a recall of 437,000 cars globally, owing to a fault with their safety airbags, with a risk of shards of metal being fired at the driver.

It has also been forced to recall thousands of its Jazz cars over concerns a switch malfunction could cause them to catch fire – although it emphasises that there have been no reported cases of this in the UK.

Peugot Citroen then revealed it would recall its Peugot 107 and Citroen C1, because they were made in the same Czech plant responsible for the faulty Toyotas.

Should my car be recalled?

There’s been some confusion in the UK over which vehicles are being recalled, so here’s a rundown.

Pedal sticking

Toyota will be recalling these models:

The AYGO MMT (February 2005 – August 2009 models)
The iQ (November 2008 – November 2009 models)
The Yaris (November 2005 – September 2009 models)
The Auris (October 2006 – January 5, 2010 models)
The Corolla (October 2006 – December 2009 models)
The Verso (February 2009 – January 5, 2010 models)
The Avensis (November 2008 – December 2009 models)

Any Toyota registered before 2005 is not included in the recall.

Braking issue:

If you drive one of the latest, third-generation Prius cars, built before January 27, 2010, your car needs to be recalled for a software upgrade that should resolve the braking delay.

There are an estimated 8,500 cars in this country that need this upgrade.

Airbag concern

UK and European cars are not affected, as Honda says the airbags are made from different components to the unsafe US and Canadian models.

Switch defect

Honda will be contacting 171,372 owners of the Jazz car, 2002-2008 models.

Peugeot Citroen

The precautionary recall is of less than 10% of Peugeot 107s and Citroen C1s, and the company has written to the relevant customers. In fact, a Citroen spokesman told moneysupermarket.com: "Only 36 cars in the UK  were affected by the brake pedal issue and all those affected customers have been informed so we do not envisage any issues here in the UK."

Concerns

If you’re in any doubt as to whether or not your vehicle is involved in these recalls, contact Toyota’s customer relations team on 0800 1388744 or Honda’s customer contact centre on 0845 200 8000.

Toyota customers can enter their registration numbers via its website to instantly check whether or not they are affected.

Am I insured?

If your car is an affected model, what should you do? Can you drive it to the dealer or garage or should you insist that the vehicle is collected?

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) has sought to reassure drivers that their cover is still valid.

It issued a statement saying: "The ABI confirms that motor insurance policies will continue to cover Toyota owners affected by the recall of certain models.

“Any claims will be dealt with in the normal way, in accordance with the terms and conditions of the policy. If they have not already done so, anyone who thinks they may be affected should contact their local Toyota dealer and follow their advice.”

tbc

If you still have concerns, there is some good news. Toyota has promised to cover anyone driving its cars through its own insurance, replicating the same terms as their existing policy.

Bear in mind this is not a free service and you would still have to pay a premium. However, the manufacturer is confident insurers won't refuse to cover its cars.

What happens if I don’t respond to the recall?

We spoke to the insurer swiftcover.com, which urged drivers of any recalled cars not to panic but warned that they may not be insured if they don’t have their vehicles fixed.

“Swiftcover.com will continue to cover drivers whose vehicles have been recalled whilst they wait for the inspection and modification work to be carried out – so long as the recall states that it is safe for the vehicle to be driven.

“[Our] advice is for owners of recalled cars not to delay and make an appointment as soon as possible. If owners ignore the recall and do not take steps to get their vehicles inspected, then there is a possibility that they would not be covered in any subsequent claim that relates to the recall.”

Can I return my car?

If you’ve lost confidence in your car as a result of this recall, do you have any legal rights to return it?

Unfortunately, the news isn’t promising. Stephen Sidkin, commercial law partner at Fox Williams LLP, explained: “It isn’t likely that you would be able to return the car. The Sale of Goods Act requires that the car is of satisfactory quality but judgements to date suggest that the car has to be a long way down the road (if you’ll forgive the pun) before it’s considered not to be satisfactory.

“I anticipate that dealers will include a provision in the contract allowing a car to be fixed, where necessary. However, judgements to date have favoured the supplier of cars over the consumer.”

He added that consumers may have a civil case for damages in the event that the car isn’t fixed as a result of the recall.

I have a car on order, can I cancel?

If your confidence in Toyota’s safety has been damaged by this, can you cancel an existing order for a new car?

We put this question to a Toyota spokesman, who explained that dealers are franchised businesses and so each would have to make a decision on whether or not to hold customers to orders where they’ve signed the contract.

“Obviously the individual dealers will look very carefully at any requests made where someone is very concerned. Customers would need to get round the table with their dealer and discuss their options.”

However, he did reiterate that the repairs are happening rapidly and the process takes about 30 minutes, after which the car is safe to drive.

If you cannot agree with the dealer and pull out of the sale, you may be in breach of contract and will most likely lose your deposit.

My car is on hire purchase, can I get rid of it?

There is nothing to suggest that your recalled Honda or Toyota won’t be perfectly safe after the recall and fix.

However, if you are buying a car through a hire purchase agreement and no longer wish to drive it as a result of recent recalls, what can you do?

We spoke to buyacar.co.uk, an online vehicle retailer. A spokesman explained: “The hire purchase agreement is a loan secured to an asset – the car – so you could always tell the loan provider that you wanted to settle the deal early and sell the car yourself. There would be interest payments and possibly a penalty to pay, so you might lose out.

“If you’ve repaid more than half of the vehicle’s value and interest payments then you do have the right to a voluntary termination of contract – you can effectively just hand the car back.

“However, that’s more for people in financial difficulties and it gets recorded against your credit score, so it’s not really an ideal solution.”

What if I want to sell my car?

There is a danger that drivers of the affected cars may well take a hit on the resale value.

Mark Smith, managing director at car leasing agency Nationwide Vehicle Contracts, explained: “The biggest concern now for the manufacturers will be the damage to their reputation, and the very real impact that could have on forecasted future residual values – this would ultimately increase the 'whole life' cost of their vehicles, and make them a more expensive proposition for consumers. We anticipate their sales volume will decrease.”

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