Lately, it seems as though a day doesn't go by without news of a new auto recall. These vehicles are complex mechanisms, so it’s not surprising that defects occur. But what do you do if your car is recalled? Here’s what you need to know:
What is a recall?
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) tracks complaints on vehicles. When enough reports are compiled, or if an auto manufacturer provides reason to explore further, NHTSA will look into the problem and weigh whether a recall should be issued. Often, manufacturers issue voluntary recalls, but if the NHTSA feels strongly enough, it can initiate a forced one instead.
What are common reasons for recalls?
Recalls are issued for a range of defects, but most importantly when a safety issue is evident. Common engineering defects include wiring or leaks that can cause fires, accelerators that can malfunction, steering issues that can lead to a loss of control of the car, or airbag deployment problems.
As a vehicle owner, what should I do to monitor recalls?
You should be alerted via email or mail if your vehicle is a part of a recall. It’s helpful if you have an online account with your dealer or an onboard communication system. While manufacturers use their own records and current state vehicle registration info, if you worry that your vehicle could be a part of a recall and you were not notified, check the NHTSA website.
What should I do if my vehicle is part of a recall?
The Official Safety Recall Notice that you should receive identifies what steps you should take. Frequently, it advises you to see a dealer as soon as possible. Once the notice is issued, the manufacturer has 60 days to deal with the issue.
What will the manufacturer do for me?
It depends on the company and the issue, but typically a company will pay for the repair cost necessary, and sometimes pay for a courtesy vehicle for you to use. If there is a severe defect, the manufacturer may replace or refund you for the vehicle. By mandate of the Safety Act and Federal regulations, the manufacturer must provide safe, free, and effective remedies. However, if your car is older than eight years, you will have to pay for any problems yourself.