Safety Recalls: What to Do if Your Car Is Recalled
When your car or any of your vehicle’s equipment has been recalled, it can make you feel worried and confused. Hearing there could be a potential safety issue with the vehicle you drive every day can be cause for concern. But, knowing what to do if your car is recalled is the first step toward feeling at ease again.
What Is a Safety Recall?
US News and World Report reported that according to data collected from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2013 alone, there were almost 22 million vehicle safety recalls. What are safety recalls, exactly? The NHTSA says a recall is when a product has a possible defect or is in noncompliance of a federal safety standard and the manufacturer has to remedy the problem for its customers. Recalls can be ordered independently by the manufacturer or the NHTSA and require the filing of a public report that includes the following information:
- Details of the applicable vehicle/equipment and number affected
- Description of the defect or noncompliance issue
- What led up to the decision to recall
- Explanation of the remedy
- Recall schedule
After it has been determined there is a need for a recall and a report is filed, the NHTSA says that the manufacturers have to try to notify those who own the products and offer free remedies for products under 10 years old. If you think your car or vehicle equipment is part of a recall and you don’t receive notice from the manufacturer, you can do a car recall check online at www.nhtsa.gov or www.safecar.gov.
What Can Be Recalled?
Normal wear and tear and issues that arise because of an aging vehicle are not covered under recalls. The NHTSA explains that generally only defects that present a safety threat will trigger a recall. Such defects can include, but are not limited to:
- Defective windshield wipers
- Malfunctioning transmission or steering equipment
- Leaky fuel systems
- Airbag issues
- Broken seats or seat belts
What Do You Do When Your Car Is Recalled?
Once you find out the recall applies to your vehicle or parts, getting it fixed should be a priority. If you had already received repairs for a problem that is recalled, you may also be able to get refunded for the cost of service. According to DMV.org, getting notified of the safety recall usually means the manufacturer has a solution available, which often includes one of three things:
- Repair: The vehicle or part will be repaired and the manufacturer will tell you where to take it and how long it will take when you receive your notification.
- Replacement: If the problem is too large to fix, the manufacturer will provide you with a new vehicle of a similar model and give instructions for how to collect in the notification.
- Refund: If no comparable replacements are available, the manufacturer will send a refund for the product at its current depreciated value.
In some cases when there’s a large recall, there may be a wait on a part and you may not get the problem fixed right away. If this is the case, check with the closest service center to find out if the manufacturer would fund a rental car. Sometimes if the issue is a big enough safety risk or you don’t feel comfortable driving your vehicle, the manufacturer will offer a free rental until the vehicle can be fixed.
No matter what the possible issue, if you think your vehicle is part of a safety recall, it’s a good idea to confirm and find out what your options are right away. The recall may simply be a precaution, but it may require immediate action — don’t delay in contacting the manufacturer or the suggested service center, if applicable.