Vehicle, Car & Auto Recalls: Frequently Asked Questions (Has your car been recalled due to any defect?)
Just What Is a Car Recall? Car Safety Recall Definition – A safety recall is an automotive manufacturer’s way of notifying vehicle customers that their product has a flaw. The automobile problem is serious enough that if you do not correct the flaw your and/or your passengers’ safety could be at risk. Generally recalls are initiated by the US Government, but sometimes individual car manufacturers will pre-emptively initiate a recall.
Where Do I Find My VIN (Vehicle Identification Number)? Look on the lower left of your car’s windshield for your 17-digit Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). Your VIN is also located on your car’s registration card, and it may be shown on your insurance card.
Auto Tip – How Do I Find Out If My Vehicle Has A Recall? ==> An easy way to determine if you have an active car recall is to just enter your VIN number at the top of this page and CarFax will report if there are any issues at all with your vehicle. The CarFax Report image looks like this:
What Do The Results Of My VIN Lookup Signify There are three recall status types that might display after you look up a VIN for safety recalls:
- Recall INCOMPLETE – This means that an incomplete or “open” recall was found on the car and the owner should follow the remedy instructions.
- Recall INCOMPLETE. Remedy Not Yet Available – This means that an incomplete or “open” recall was found on the car, but the manufacturer is not yet ready to provide the needed remedy or fix.
- Number of Open Recalls: If 0 – This means that either you have no recalls associated with your car or your car has already been fixed.
What Is a Car Recall – Technically Speaking: The United States Code for Motor Vehicle Safety (Title 49, Chapter 301) defines motor vehicle safety as, “The performance of a motor vehicle or motor vehicle equipment in a way that protects the public against unreasonable risk of accidents occurring because of the design, construction, or performance of a motor vehicle, and against unreasonable risk of death or injury in an accident, and includes nonoperational safety of a motor vehicle.”
An automotive defect can include, “Any defect in performance, construction, a component, or material of a motor vehicle or motor vehicle equipment.”
What Is An Automotive Safety Defect? Generally, a safety defect is defined as a problem that exists in a motor vehicle or item of motor vehicle equipment that:
- poses a risk to motor vehicle safety, and
- may exist in a group of vehicles of the same design or manufacture, or items of equipment of the same type and manufacturer.
What Does It Mean When A Manufacturer Initiates A Car Safety Recall? An automotive safety recall involving a motor vehicle or an item of motor vehicle equipment can be independently conducted by a manufacturer or ordered by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). In either case, the car manufacturer must file a public report detailing the car safety-related defect or if there is a noncompliance with a Federal motor vehicle safety standard. The report must include the following:
- the involved vehicle/equipment population
- the major events that resulted in the recall determination
- a description of the remedy, and
- a schedule for the recall.
Who Initiates Car Safety Recalls? Auto, truck, and motorcycle recalls are initiated by:
- Manufacturers based on their own studies or the recommendations of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).OR
- The NHTSA via a court order.
Auto Tip ==> Just so you know… With most car recall notifications, auto manufacturers, for public relation purposes, generally comply when a court-ordered recall is initiated by the NHTSA.
What Role Does NHTSA Play In Ensuring Car Manufacturers Compliance? The NHTSA actively monitors every safety recall to ensure the manufacturers provide owners with safe, free, and effective remedies according to the Safety Act and Federal regulations. Manufacturers are required to attempt to notify owners of recalled products. For vehicles, that means manufacturers merge their own records of vehicle purchasers with current state vehicle registration information.
For car equipment, where state registration record does not exist, manufacturers are obligated to notify their distribution chain and known purchasers of the recalled equipment. However, even if you do not receive a notification, if your vehicle, child restraint, or other items of equipment is involved in a safety recall, the manufacturer is obligated to provide a free remedy.
How Do You Know If Your Car Is Subject To A Recall? If you have registered your vehicle with your auto manufacturer they will notify you when a safety recall is found. They will alert you by sending you a letter in the mail.
Auto Tip ==> Keep your mailing address up to date via your vehicle registration information.
What Do I Do If My Car Is Recalled? When you receive a car recall notification, be sure to follow any interim safety guidance provided by the manufacturer and contact your local dealership. In rare cases, this can include information not to drive your auto. Whether you receive a recall notification or are subject to a safety improvement campaign, it is very important that you visit your dealer to have the vehicle serviced.
Auto Tip ==> Every recall is serious, so it’s important that you contact an authorized service center as soon as possible to make an appointment to get it fixed.
Contact your automotive dealer as soon as possible. For major car recalls, your automotive dealership may be swamped with repair requests.
What Can Kind Of Auto Related Issues Be Included In A Recall? Be aware that recalls are only issued if the defect poses a safety risk. Vehicle safety-defect examples that can initiate a recall:
- Faulty windshield wiper systems.
- Accelerator pedals that fail to release.
- Defective steering systems, hampering a drivers ability to maintain control.
- Cracking tires.
- Faulty fuel system components that leak upon impact, making them susceptible to fire.
- Seats or seat backs that fail to hold their position.
- Defective seatbelts.
- Faulty airbag systems that deploy upon the slightest impact.
- Defective wiring systems that make the vehicle susceptible to fire.
- Car jacks that fail to hold.
- Child safety seats with defective buckling systems or components that break or crack.
- Car components that crack, break or fall off the vehicle, rendering its ability to remain in control.
What Are Some Car Items That Vehicle Recalls Do Not Cover? Realize that there is normal wear and tear with a vehicle. These items are typically not covered with an automotive recall:
- Common wear and tear examples. This includes brake pads, car batteries, exhaust systems and shock absorbers.
- Chipping and/or fading paint.
- Body rust.
- Faulty air conditioning systems.
- Defective car stereo systems.
What Remedies Are Available For My Recall Repair? Your car recall problem will be resolved via one of three ways:
- Replacement: The manufacturer will replace your vehicle with an identical or similar model.
- Refund: The manufacturer will refund the purchase price, minus depreciation costs.
- Repair: The manufacturer, in the recall letter, will instruct you on where to take your vehicle for repair, along with an estimated repair time and contact information should you harbor questions.
Auto Tip ==> If you did not receive notification from the manufacturer, but believe your vehicle or vehicle-safety product should be covered under the recall drive, call (888) 327-4236 or (800) 424-9393. Or contact your car manufacturer directly.
Reporting A Safety Problem – How Can I Contact NHTSA? If you suspect your car has a defect that may jeopardize your safety, contact the NHTSA via one of three ways:
1. By Phone – Call either (888) 327-4236 or (800) 424-9393. If you’re hearing impaired, dial (800) 424-9153.
When calling, be as specific as possible in describing the problem.
The NHTSA will then mail you a letter verifying it received your information. The agency will also request permission to use your name and contact information when notifying the manufacturer. You have the right to refuse this request.
2. By Mail – Send a detailed letter describing the problem to:
U.S. Department of Transportation
National Highways Traffic Safety Administration
Office of Defects Investigation (NVS-210)
1200 New Jersey Ave. SE
Washington, DC 20590
3. Via Online Form – and follow the instructions.
What If I Am Not Satisfied With Recall Repair? You are entitled to file an online complaint with NHTSA and provide as many details as possible, including the name of the dealership and any personnel involved.
What To Do If You Are Unable To Have The Recall Work Done Or You Will Be Charged For The Car Repair? In most cases, dealers perform safety-related recall repairs promptly and correctly. But, sometimes problems do occur. The most efficient steps to take to get your repaired are below:
Step 1: Contact the dealer service manager: The first step is to contact the dealer service manager. You should explain the situation to the manager, identifying the work required as part of a safety recall. If you have the manufacturer’s notification letter on the safety recall, it will help explain your concern.
If that doesn’t work then,
Step 2: Contact the Manufacturer: To contact the manufacturer, call the telephone number (usually toll-free) that is provided in the letter sent to you notifying you of the recall. You can also find the telephone number for the manufacturer’s local representative or toll-free customer service number in the back of the vehicle owner’s manual.
And, if all that doesn’t work then,
Step 3: Contact NHTSA: Contacting NHTSA is easy. You can write us, call us toll-free, or connect with us over the Internet. Our address and toll-free telephone number are provided in every recall notification letter. You can write the NHTSA at: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE, West Building, Washington, D.C. 20590. Our toll-free telephone number is (888)DASH-2-DOT (1-888-327-4236). To contact us over the Internet, simply go to their interactive website.
If My Car Is Recalled, Do I Have To Pay For The Recall Repairs? When a car or truck recall is issued, the manufacturer remedies your vehicle problem at no cost to you. A recall is issued when a manufacturer or NHTSA determines that a vehicle, equipment, car seat, or tire creates an unreasonable safety risk or fails to meet minimum safety standards. Manufacturers are required to fix the problem by repairing it, replacing it, offering a refund, or in rare cases repurchasing the vehicle (lemon law).
Auto Tip ==> An easy way to determine if you have an active car recall is to just enter your VIN number at the top of this page and CarFax will report if there are any issues at all with your vehicle. The CarFax Report image looks like this:
Auto Tip ==> Just because you haven’t received a car recall notice, that doesn’t your car is free of safety defects. It might just mean either you missed your vehicle recall notification or your car just hasn’t yet been recalled. Be sure to save your receipts and other documents if you get it repaired yourself. If the car is recalled later for that specific problem, you may be able to get reimbursed from the automaker.
What Are The Vehicle Recall Limitations? Your vehicle is not eligible for free recall remedies (refund, replacement, repair) if it is more than 10 years old on the date the defect or noncompliance is determined. The age of your vehicle is based on your vehicle’s purchase date. If your recalled vehicle is older than 10 years old, it’s up to you to have the flaw repaired at your expense.
Auto Tip ==> How To Determine The Purchase Date Of Your Vehicle? Obtain a CarFax Report and it will have all dates including purchase and the dates of many service procedures for your car.
Available Car Manufacturers Recall Updates: Acura, Audi, BMW, BMW Motorcycles, BRP Can-Am, Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Chicago Scooter, Chrysler, Dodge, Ducati Motorcycles, Ferrari, FIAT, Ford, Freightliner Sprinter, Genuine Scooters, GMC, Harley-Davidson, Honda, Honda Motorcycles, Hummer, Hyundai, Infiniti, Jaguar, Jeep, Kawasaki, Kia, KTM Motorcycles, Land Rover, Lexus, Lincoln, Chicago Scooter, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, Mercury, MINI, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Oldsmobile, Polaris, Pontiac, Porsche, ProMaster, RAM, Saab, Saturn, Scion, SMART, Subaru, Suzuki Motorcycles, Tesla, Toyota , Triumph, Volkswagen, Volvo, Yamaha Motorcycles.