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What to do if your vehicle is recalled?

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WHAT TO DO IF YOUR VEHICLE IS RECALLED  

Car recalls can be scary, dangerous, and confusing. If your vehicle has been recalled, you need to act quickly. Recent recalls from vehicle manufactures, Toyota, Volkswagen, and Honda have endangered the lives of millions.

A car recall occurs when either the manufacturer or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) (http://www.safercar.gov/) determines that there is a defect, or potential defect, in every car of that make or model that makes the vehicle unsafe.  The federal government maintains safety standards for vehicles, and if a manufacturer fails to comply with those standards the vehicle may be recalled.  If your vehicle has been recalled, you will have it repaired or replaced free of charge.

After a recall, the manufacture and distributor of the vehicle are required to send out notice to any consumers of the product. You will receive a letter in the mail if your vehicle has been recalled. The letter will contain:

  • 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)
  • Instructions regarding what you should do next

If you don’t receive a car recall notice, however, you can search through current safety recalls on the NHTSA’s site. And 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 to have on your radar and provides pertinent info about recalls on cars.

If your car is on the NHTSA’s car 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. And to avoid complications, it’s best to bring your recall letter with you (if you have one).

While you are typically able to pursue legal damages for defective vehicle accidents, if you were warned about the issue and had reasonable time to correct it before the accident then you may not be able to win a legal judgment against the manufacturer.  Ignoring a vehicle recall warning can have serious consequences by both increasing your risk of accident and hurting your chances of receiving financial compensation.