Recalls: How to Respond and Watch Out for New Ones

You hear about them every year: vehicle recalls. Ignoring them could be costly, as they’re often caused by a safety issue recently uncovered in a certain model or a product that’s been installed in a variety of vehicles, like a seat belt that doesn’t latch properly or an airbag that may explode.

They’ve gotten worse in recent years, with 2016 notching a record-breaking 53.2 million recalls. As cars grow increasingly complex with additional technology and safety features, they also have more opportunities for problems to emerge. It’s crucial for consumers to look out for — and understand — recalls.

What is a Car Recall?

Recalls are spurred by consumer complaints made to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and its Office of Defects Investigation. The NHTSA collects these complaints and looks for trends in the data. If enough complaints come in on a similar topic for a certain model, the administration will launch an investigation.

If an investigation determines a vehicle model or component is unsafe, the NHTSA can direct the manufacturer to issue a recall. Occasionally, some manufacturers will get out in front of the problem by issuing a recall before the NHTSA orders it to do so.

How Recalls Are Announced

Under federal law, manufacturers are required to alert owners of the affected vehicles through the mail. The notice should include:

  • The potential safety hazards present
  • Instructions on how to correct the problem
  • An explanation stating the consumer won’t be charged for repairs as long as they go to an approved dealer

Most recalls are also announced through press releases by the NHTSA and the manufacturer. Media outlets generally publish this information widely to reach as many people as possible.

As a consumer, you can be proactive by visiting the NHTSA’s SaferCar.gov website to see if there’s a recall for your vehicle identification number.

How to Respond to a Recall

If your vehicle has been recalled, you can take it to a dealer for repairs at no charge. As we’ve already said, the manufacturer is required to make this information very clear in the notification it mails out. All of your steps should be clearly laid out. If not, you’ll want to contact the NHTSA.

If a recall has ever been issued for your vehicle, you need to have it examined as soon as possible. Note that recalls never expire unless the vehicle’s manufacturer goes out of business or the components needed for the repair are no longer in production.

With that in mind, never buy a used car without first checking to see if the model year or vehicle identification number was recalled. If it was, check its maintenance history to see if the issue was ever corrected.

Getting Assistance with Your Recall

All Cases Reviewed By An Experienced Attorney

If your vehicle is recalled and it is taking an unreasonable amount of time to fix the defect, or if a dealer refuses to fix the issue, you may have a case on your hands. Trust the offices of Robison Lemon Law Group for assistance. We can help you navigate both the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act and used car lemon laws to ensure you receive the justice you deserve. Our experienced legal team will work with you to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve.