What to Do if Your Vehicle is Recalled

vehicle recall

Vehicles today are constructed with the highest level of standards to ensure both the driver’s and any occupants’ safety while riding in the vehicle. Unfortunately, from time-to-time, potentially unsafe parts are discovered after the vehicle has been released and sold to consumers. When this occurs, the automaker will issue a recall of the vehicle.

An auto recall from a manufacturer usually involves a safety-related defect or a compliance violation with a federal safety standard. When a recall is issued, the manufacturer will notify owners, via letter in most instances, about the nature of the problem and will typically offer a free repair to bring the vehicle back into compliance with safety standards.

If you receive a vehicle recall letter or card, the most important thing to remember is that while this is a serious matter that requires attention, there’s no need to panic! Okay, let’s start with the recall letter/card…

The Recall Letter/Card

In the instance of a safety recall, a letter or card will be sent to owners to notify them of the situation in detail. In this correspondence, the manufacturer will provide a description of the defect, the risk/hazard posed by the defect, potential warning signs to look out for, details of how the problem will be corrected by the manufacturer, and instructions regarding what you should do next.

If you hear of a safety recall issued for your vehicle but did not receive a letter, there is no need to worry — all recalls are registered with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) before any letters are sent, so you should receive some correspondence regarding the recall shortly. The NHTSA’s recall site is also a great resource to check for any recalls that may have been issued on your vehicle.

The Repair

Once you receive recall correspondence, steps should be taken to arrange for the repair of what is being recalled. Although you many not be in immediate danger, it’s always smart to err on the side of caution and have the issue addressed as soon as possible.

As an auto recall is usually an issue of safety, the repair to a recalled vehicle should be done free of charge by an authorized dealer. Since dealers contract directly with the manufacturer, they should be fully aware of any recalls and have on hand, or be able to get, the necessary materials to make the repairs. Again, recalls are registered with the NHTSA and are monitored to ensure that manufacturers (and by extension, dealerships) provide safe, free and effective repairs.  However, it’s a good idea to bring any recall correspondence with you when you drop off your vehicle for repair.

For more information on safety recalls and reporting a safety issue, be sure to check out the NHTSA’s online brochure.

Have you ever gone through the process of having your vehicle repaired after recall? If so, tell us about your experiences – as always, we welcome your feedback!

*image courtesy of JD Hancock on Flickr