What to Do if Your Vehicle is Recalled

If you are a driver of a car that has been recalled, you will need to follow a few simple steps to get your car fixed or replaced.  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.

TIP:  Before you purchase a new or used vehicle, you can check the NHTSA website for vehicle shoppers and get any safety alerts before buying the car. (http://www.safercar.gov/Vehicle+Shoppers)

What to Do If your Vehicle is Recalled

If your vehicle is recalled, you will receive a notification in the mail about the recall and what you can do to have the car replaced.   This letter from the manufacturer will provide:

  • Description of the defect
  • Risk posed by the defect (including types of accidents and injuries that could result)
  • Warning signs of the defect
  • How the manufacturer intends to fix the problem (repair the vehicle or replace it)
  • Instructions on how to have your recalled vehicle fixed or replaced

If you receive a recall letter, you should follow the exact instructions from the manufacturer, which usually requires you to call your local dealer to set up a repair appointment.  Note that if you have a tire recall, you must have the repair work completed within 60 days.

In some cases, the manufacturer will fail to provide you with a letter notifying you of a recall.  However, if you hear of a potential recall of your vehicle or are concerned that your car has a defect, you can search the NHTSA website for current vehicle or part recalls.  (http://www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/owners/SearchVehicles)

NOTE: If you receive a recall notification you do not have to pay for recall repairs.  You will need to bring your vehicle to an authorized dealership and show them your recall letter – although the dealer should already be aware of the problem.  If you  are charged, contact the number provided by the manufacturer in the recall letter or even the NHTSA at 1-888-327-4236.  Do not pay for repairs to your car required due to recall.

Consequences of Ignoring Recall Warnings

The most obvious consequence of disregarding a vehicle recall is the risk of having the defect cause you an accident and injury.  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.

If you have been injured in an car accident caused by a defect in the vehicles manufacture or design, consult an experienced attorney for legal assistance.