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Vauxhall Zafira fires prompts DVSA procedures reform

Vauxhall Zafira 2015

Practices and procedures at the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency have undergone significant reform following a distinctive pattern of Vauxhall Zafira fires in 2015.

Some of the fires were serious enough to destroy entire vehicles and cause damage to the surrounding environment. The fires started behind the glove box in the heating and ventilation system in cars with manual or no air conditioning.

Although the Model B Zafira was no longer on the market by the time Vauxhall became aware of the fires, the company sold more than 230,000 Model B Zafiras with manual or no air conditioning between 2005 and 2014.

Lilian Greenwood MP, chairman of the Transport Select Committee, said: “I am pleased that the Government has listened to, and is acting upon, the recommendations made by the committee in the last parliament.

“Vauxhall customers are, quite rightly, still looking for answers.

“We await the outcome of the DVSA investigation into Vauxhall’s actions, which we will be examining closely.

“The public needs to be confident that their safety comes first. This response demonstrates that ministers are reassessing key procedures and practices at the DVSA and in their working relationships with other key bodies.

“We welcome the commitment made by the Government to report back to the committee by March 31, 2018.”

In its Vauxhall Zafira Fires report, the committee said Vauxhall was too slow to begin a full investigation into fires affecting Zafira B models and too quick to attribute them to improper and unauthorised repair.

The committee also made recommendations on vehicle product safety and the recalls process.

In accepting many of the Committee’s recommendations, the Government’s response outlines how practices at the DVSA have been changed or are under review. 

These include:

  • The Department for Transport and DVSA will review their existing powers of enforcement to ensure they are being used effectively
  • A standalone enforcement directorate (incorporating the vehicle safety branch) has been created through structural transformation, resulting in more resource for enforcement activities.
  • The possibility of automatic fails at MOT stage for vehicles with the most severe, unremediated, defects.
  • The method of reporting and managing safety recalls has been changed to increase consumer confidence and ensure public safety.
  • Discussions with key groups including the insurance industry, to encourage the reporting of defects and sharing of information.

The DVSA is still investigating Vauxhall’s handling of the recalls process.

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