DVSA says it is ‘urgently’ looking into safety recalls for cars during Covid-19 lockdown – This is Money


Andrew Hebbs, 67, is having to continue to use his car during the coronavirus pandemic having had a safety recall appointment for his Toyota delayed

Andrew Hebbs, 67, is having to continue to use his car during the coronavirus pandemic having had a safety recall appointment for his Toyota delayed

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency says it is ‘urgently’ looking into the recall process for cars after This is Money voiced concerns that motorists are unable to have safety issues repaired during the coronavirus lockdown.

Andrew Hebbs, 67, from Cirencester, says he was turned away by a Toyota dealership when he arrived for his appointment to have a seatbelt fault fixed on his Prius hybrid.

This left him with no choice but to continue using the car for essential shopping during the restrictions on public movement.

The DVSA – which is responsible for the recall process for all vehicles with known safety problems – says it is now looking into how to prioritise the most urgent cases.

The law dictates that motorists are legally responsible to ensure their car is safe to drive, including having a vehicle repaired due to a safety recall,

The Government’s website stipulates that if you do not get your vehicle inspected and fixed it could put yourself and others at serious risk.

It also warns that driving a vehicle with a known outstanding safety recall notice might also affect any insurance claim you make and can see owners ‘fined up to £2,500, be banned from driving and get three penalty points for driving a vehicle in a dangerous condition’. 

Mr Hebbs, is a retired chemical engineer and spent the last few years of his career building desulphurisation plants on power stations.

He told This is Money he had an appointment on Tuesday for a safety recall issued through the post for his 2016 Toyota Prius for a seatbelt fault. 

The Prius was named by crash tester Euro NCAP as the safest family car on sale in 2016. 

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The morning appointment also included a service and MOT for the same vehicle.

Vehicle safety recalls: The DVSA says it is urgently looking at the process for pressing car repairs during the coronavirus lockdown

Vehicle safety recalls: The DVSA says it is urgently looking at the process for pressing car repairs during the coronavirus lockdown

However, following the Prime Minister’s announcement regarding shop closures on Monday evening, when Mr Hebbs arrived at his local Toyota dealership it was in the process of being shutting down in line with the recent measures. 

He told us: ‘I am almost 68 and live in a village almost five miles away from a supermarket. 

‘I rely on my car to shop.’ 

Having been told to speak to the car maker directly, he said Toyota had told him that the recall was ‘not too critical’ as it related to a ‘warning light coming on when it shouldn’t’. 

He was told by the manufacturer that it was in the process of setting up a ‘skeleton workshop’ to deal with vehicles in order of importance. 

While Mr Hebbs was told he can continue to drive his car, the issue raises concerns for the safety of vehicles being used on UK roads that cannot be repaired by manufacture’s due to the coronavirus closures.

Already in 2020, government records show that 107 seperate recalls have been issued for vehicle-related faults.

Some 1,218 recalls were issued for vehicle and equipment last year, the DVSA’s database shows, 

A Toyota UK spokesman said the fault was not one that requires an owner to ‘stop driving’ – and it currently has no safety recalls in place that would prevent it from being drivable.

He added: ‘Clearly the present situation creates some major challenges for us. 

‘We have had proactive discussions with both Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders and Driver and Vehicle Licencing Agency this week to try to establish what we, and the industry, can do to fill recall needs within the constraints we have to operate in at the moment.

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‘In this case the issue is with the seat-belt warning light, not the seat-belt, so there is no safety issue, but we’re sorry we were unable to help the customer on the day and hopefully our discussions with DVLA will lead to clarity on what we can do.’ 

Mr Hebbs told This is Money that a recall appointment for his 2016 Toyota Prius hybrid (file photo) was cancelled on Tuesday - and he was told he can continue driving the vehicle

Mr Hebbs told This is Money that a recall appointment for his 2016 Toyota Prius hybrid (file photo) was cancelled on Tuesday – and he was told he can continue driving the vehicle

We’ve also asked the DVSA what it is doing to ensure the safety of motorists in relation to recalls at this time.

A spokesman told us: ‘People should stay at home and avoid travel unless absolutely essential. The only reasons you should leave your house are set out in the government guidance.

‘DVSA will make sure that vehicles with the most immediate road safety risks are recalled. 

‘However, we are urgently looking at the recall process, to avoid confusion at this time.’

Can I still use my car during the Covid-19 lockdown? 

Drivers are being told they can still use their cars during the virus pandemic, but the Government has recommended this should be only for one of a number of approved reasons.

This includes shopping for essentials, attending a medical appointment, assisting an elderly or vulnerable person, or getting to or from work if you can’t work from home.

Police forces have said that motorists are no prohibited to use vehicles to drive to locations to go for a walk or any other form of once-a-day exercising.

While there are no current measures in place to shut roads, the Prime Minister has told peop’le not to leave their homes for any other reason than those listed above.

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This means it is inadvisable for motorists to take advantage of partially deserted roads just to go for a drive on their own. And anyone caught doing so by police while restrictions are in place could face a fine. 

The DVSA is responsible for pressing car makers to issue safety recalls. However, it's the responsibility of a driver to ensure their vehicle is in a safe order - else face fines and penalty points

The DVSA is responsible for pressing car makers to issue safety recalls. However, it’s the responsibility of a driver to ensure their vehicle is in a safe order – else face fines and penalty points

Safety recall explained 

Safety recalls are issued to vehicle owners when the car maker is forced to action repairs on faults that could render the motor dangerous.

Registered keepers are informed via a letter from the manufacturer stating their vehicle needs to be fixed.

However, safety recalls can be issued years after a car has been produced, making it difficult for brands to get in touch with the existing owner if the vehicle has been sold on.

Drivers are told to check the Government’s online system for vehicle recalls, which also includes call-backs for accessories and other products, including child car seats. 

For vehicle recalls, an owner can find out if there are outstanding issues with their particular car by entering its registration number into the online database. 

You will not usually have to pay for any repairs or parts under a safety recall. 

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