Vehicle recalls are a part of life. Over a lifetime of car ownership, you eventually will have a situation where your car gets recalled.
Dealing with vehicle recalls is not difficult, but it can be annoying. The following is meant to explain the steps you must take if you receive a vehicle recall from a manufacturer.
First, some basic facts about vehicle recalls.
- Recalls are issued by manufacturers when they discover a safety-related defect or find that some aspect of the car does not comply with federal safety standards
- Car companies must send letters to owners affected by the recall
- The letter will describe the defect and why it is a safety hazard, potential warning signs of the issue, how they plan to fix the problem and what you need to do next to get the problem fixed
Here are some of the next steps to take when getting a vehicle recall letter.
Call a Dealership
Once you receive a recall, take the car to a dealership that sells your make of car. Even if you think the defect is not an immediate safety hazard, it’s wise to get it fixed quickly. It does not have to be the dealership where you bought the car. All dealerships are required by law to make the needed repair for free. Bring your vehicle recall letter with you when visiting the dealership.
If You Already Repaired the Problem
Let’s say the recall involves a problem with the brakes. But you already had that issue repaired when you realized it was a problem and before the recall happened. What do you do?
The law requires automakers to reimburse you the cost of the repair if you did it up to a year before the recall. To ensure reimbursement, the work must have been done at dealership franchised by the automaker. However, you can still request the reimbursement if you can show proof (a receipt) from an independent mechanic where the work was done.
When buying a used car, make sure to check for any recalls on that make and model. Used cars sometimes are sold before the repair mandated in a recall is done. Keep in mind that only dealerships franchised by the automaker are legally obligated to make the repair. So, if you buy a used Toyota from a Volkswagen dealership, the Volkswagen dealership doesn’t have to make the repairs.
It’s important to check. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that about 25 percent of recalled cars do not get repaired after a vehicle recall, in part because they were sold as used cars and the new owner never knew about the recall.
To keep up to date on recalls, you can visit the NHTSA website.