In recent years, there have appeared to be a proliferation of vehicle recalls. While the perception may be that the recalls were limited to only a couple of major manufacturers, do not be misled. Automotive recalls occur more frequently than most anyone will care to admit and no-one manufacturer has a flawless record.
Sometimes, the issue is minor – annoying, really. Other times, the recall could be the result of some major problem. Regardless, recalls are a serious business and you would be well-advised to respond – before anything troubling occurs.
An auto recall occurs when a manufacturer or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) determines that a car model (or several models) has a safety-related defect or does not comply with a federal safety standard. When this happens, the automaker is obligated to alert owners to the problem and usually offer a free repair. Keep in mind that a recall doesn’t mean that the entire vehicle will be replaced. You may hear or read about a pending recall from a newspaper or television. The manufacturer may not be in touch for a short time after since they need to ensure that their dealer networks are in a position to complete the necessary work in a timely manner. You can also stay up-to-date on recalls by visiting the NHTSA’s website. http://www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/subscriptions/index.cfm
In the event your vehicle is recalled, the letter you received should contain the following:
• A description of the defect;
• The risk or hazard posed by the problem (including the kinds of injuries it can cause);
• Potential warning signs;
• How the manufacturer plans to fix the problem (including when the repair will be available and how long it’ll take); and,
• Instructions regarding what you should do next.
If you ever receive a recall notice regarding tires, you must have the repair work completed within 60 days of receiving notification.
If you don’t receive a car recall notice, however, you can search through current safety recalls on the NHTSA’s site. Whether you received a letter or not, the manufacturer is still obligated to repair the defect (for free). The NHTSA recalls site is usually updated before the letters go out, so it’s a great resource.
Does a safety recall mean I’m in immediate danger? No. If your car is on a recall list, it doesn’t automatically mean you’re in danger. However, if you learn that your vehicle has been recalled, have it repaired as soon as possible, especially if the defect could pose a major safety hazard.
Remember, if your vehicle is on the NHTSA’s recall list, all recall-related fixes should be done free of charge. You’ll need to take your car to an authorized dealer since they contract directly with the manufacturer. To avoid complications, it’s best to bring your recall letter with you – if you have one.