Car Recalls: What You Need to Know
What is a Car Recall? A car recall is a request from a car manufacturer to return a vehicle that may have a safety defect, or has a known potential defect. The manufacturer will usually notify you of the recall by mail or email.
A recall is announced when there is a part of the car that can pose a safety risk to the operator. It’s often a part that needs to be evaluated, repaired or replaced. Recalls are issued by the National Highway
Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA) or the manufacturer of the vehicle. When it is identified that
there is a part that is not functioning as intended, there is an open recall on the vehicle, and it
must be serviced.
Safety vs. Non-Safety Recalls
Safety recalls are things like airbags, seatbelts, steering faults, brake faults, wiring, or anything else that can affect
drivability or safety in general. Non-safety recalls are mainly cosmetic fixes or functions that do
not affect safety. Things like paint, rust, infotainment systems, stereos, and other things that
affect the quality of the vehicle, but do not make the vehicle any less safe to operate.
How Do I Know If My Car Has a Recall?
If there is an open recall on your vehicle you will most likely receive a mailing or email from the manufacturer, or the dealership. In some cases, there may be a phone call as well. When you receive the letter, you will typically
see “Safety Recall Notice” and federal logos on the label so it will be easy to identify. The letter
will give you a description of the problem, warning signs that your vehicle is affected by this
recall, risks that it poses, repair information, time of repair, and anything else to expect.
If you are not the original owner of the car or changed mailing addresses, there are many ways to
check if your vehicle is affected by an open recall. You can put your vehicle identification
number (VIN) into NHTSA’s recall page on their website. You can also enter your VIN into
dealership websites or give us a call to check for you.
What to Expect When You Bring Your Car in for the Recall
When a recall service is performed, and is required by the manufacturer, you will not be charged for the service. Often times many owners will get the same recall notice, at the same time. If you receive a recall notice for your car, you should contact your dealership to schedule a repair as soon as possible to avoid delays in scheduling.
There could also be a shortage of parts required to repair the recall or parts are in transit. Sometimes when there is a
safety recall, the notice of a recall will go out before a solution is found. This is due to the safety
concerns the recall might cause, in this case you must simply wait for the solution to be found.
Some recalls are recalls that are repairable while others require a part to be changed.
Some recalls affect all vehicles produced in a certain time period, while others affect only some vehicles in that time period. So in many cases, your vehicle might need to be seen, just to rule out any potential issues.
- NHTSA website: https://www.nhtsa.gov/recalls
- Car manufacturer websites: Most car manufacturers have a section on their website where you can check for recalls.