What to Do if Your Car is Recalled: A Step by Step Guide

If there is a recall on your vehicle, you may not be sure what to do. But knowing that there could be a potentially safety issue with the vehicle that you drive yourself and your family in everyday, is concerning. So knowing what you need to do if your  car is recalled can help you feel a bit more at ease.

This post is sponsored by Winner Auto Group.

What Exactly is a Safety Recall?

So the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issues a recall if they – or manufacturer – determines that a  vehicle or its equipment can pose a safety risk or does not meet motor vehicle safety standards. They can recall a vehicle over air bags, tires, or even the cars seat. Manufacturers are actually required to file a report that includes information such as the details of the applicable vehicle/equipment and number of vehicles affected, a description of the defect or compliance issue, why they are deciding to do the recall, the remedy they will use to fix it, and the schedule of the recall.

How Will You Know About the Recall?

After it’s been determined that there is a need for a recall, and the report is filed the NTSA requires that the manufacturers must try to notify all registered owners and purchasers of the vehicle by mail within 60 days. The letter will instruct the owner on how to get the issue fixed, and what time frame and when the repair is available, and how long it should take and who they need to contact if there are any further issues. It also will let you know that there is NO CHARGE to correct the problem.

If you are unsure, or think your vehicle has been recalled in the past,the NHTSA does provide an online tool that allows you to search for recalls using your vehicles Vehicle Identification Number (VIN).

What Can Be Recalled?

Obviously normal wear and tear and issues that arise due to aging of a vehicle are not covered under recalls (or insurance). Pretty much it’s generally a defect that presents a safety threat that will trigger a recall. For example, maybe malfunctioning steering equipment, leaky fuel system, airbags that deploy improperly, wiring issues that could be a fire hazard, car jacks that may collapse, or an accelerator that may stick or malfunction. 

What Do You Do When Your Car is Recalled?

Once you find out a recall applies to one of your vehicles, getting it  fixed needs to be a priority. They don’t just recall for no good reason – this costs the company hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars – so don’t take a recall lightly. Usually they give you one of three options for fixing the problem:
Repair – the vehicle or part will be repaired by the manufacturer at no cost to you
Replacement – if a problem cannot be fixed, the manufacturer can provide you with another identical vehicle, or similar model
Refund – the manufacturer can choose to refund the purchase price of the vehicle, minus depreciation. 

The same thing goes for other types of vehicle accessories, like car seats. If you already paid to fix the problem that is being recalled, you should be able to be refunded the cost of the service.

No matter what the issue may be, remember that you need to contact the service center right away to find out what your options are. Yes, most of the time it is a precaution, but it does require immediate action. 


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