Risky rides: What to do when it comes to car recalls in ride-sharing

Concerned riders can sign up to receive alerts on their phones

HOUSTON – Hitting the town for a memorable experience? For many Houstonians, this means relying on car services.

The rides are routinely uneventful, but sometimes, one might get the white-knuckle treatment.

"The guy almost ran through a couple of red lights,” is how one football fan described his experience en route to a University of Houston football game.

That said, how often does a rider actually question safety before hopping into his or her ride?

"Not once," Terri Perez said.

Channel 2 Investigates recently hit up major events all around town to see if passengers had any clue if their ride had an open safety recall.

Using the MyCarFax app, we ran various plates, and within seconds, we knew if a ride was risky.

Drivers were just as oblivious as passengers, but there were those drivers who admitted they knew of recalls targeting their vehicles.

“Yes, I got the letter,” one driver said outside Minute Maid Park.

Faulty air bags have a deadly track record. In April 2016, investigators blamed a malfunctioning air bag in the death of a Fort Bend County teen.

However, when Channel 2 Investigates told one passenger of the potential deadly secret with his ride, he didn't seem concerned.

"Nah, I'm getting in right now," he said.

After Channel 2 Investigates informed one driver of the faulty driver's-side airbag recall on his vehicle, the driver, a bit stunned at the news, expressed his appreciation.

"I'm going to get with the mechanic," he said. "I appreciate you informing me."

Six things you should know about recalls and car services:

-- Are inspections required by the city?

The city of Houston used to require annual inspections for a Transportation Network Company, or TNC, licensee. However, the requirement drove off into the sunset in late May when Gov. Greg Abbott signed House Bill 100, creating statewide regulations for ride share companies.

-- What instructions do carriers pass along to their drivers?

An Uber spokesperson told Channel 2 Investigates that the company "(provides) resources to drivers and (encourages) them to check for recalls" while also performing routine maintenance. The ride service also said it joined the U.S. Department of Transportation’s campaign of making all drivers aware of the significance of periodically checking for active recalls.

-- Who had had a better completion rate in recent years Tesla, Mercedes or Ferrari?

The U.S. Department of Transportation, along with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, presented the Vehicle Safety Recall Completion Rates Report to Congress in May. You can find the answer here. (It's a long report ... hint: Page 11)

-- Can I sign up for recall alerts?

Yes, right here.

-- How did Channel 2 Investigates look up vehicles on the phone?

Simple: We just downloaded this app. It also can be found here.

-- How much does it cost to address a recall?

Karolena Serratos, of Professional Auto Care in Southwest Houston, said recalls will be taken care of by the manufacturer “free of charge.” The only cost to a vehicle owner involves lost time and gas money in making an extra trip to the dealer.