Understanding Car Recalls

With the purchase of an automobile, you have the expectation that it will comply with various performance and safety criteria. However, given that there are in excess of 200 million cars currently traveling the highways, it is not surprising that there will be problems.  This is the reason that consumers have protection under the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act. In essence, the law mandates that automobile manufacturers correct significant issues with their vehicles without any expense being borne by the owner. As a matter of fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), charged with overseeing automobile safety, asserts that from 1966 to the present, “in excess of 390 million vehicles and 46 million tires” have been the subjects of recalls.

Below you will find an examination of the process of automobile recalls and the action you should take should your vehicle be affected.

Where does an automobile recall originate?

The majority of recalls come from the vehicle manufacturer. The manufacturers will frequently uncover issues with their vehicles through their internal processes of testing and examination. Upon occasion, consumers will discover problems before the manufacturer uncovers them. Vehicle owners have the ability to notify the NHTSA of these problems. After a substantial number of similar reports have been received by the NHTSA, it will examine the problem and advise the manufacturer in the event that they can duplicate it and feel that there is a serious safety flaw. After that, the NHTSA will command that the manufacturer put out a safety recall.

For what reason would an automobile recall be announced?

Automobile recalls are generally created by two major issues: the failure to comply with general federal safety standards or an unanticipated safety flaw which is found in either the automobile or one of its components. Flaws in the safety of a vehicle are confined to major issues which can result in the vehicle becoming uncontrollable or which create a situation where the vehicle responds inadequately in the event of an accident.  For example, these issues would affect the steering, wheel, fuel system, child safety seats or airbags. Situations such as an air conditioner which does not work or normal wear on brakes and batteries do not qualify as safety defects.

How am I informed whether or not my vehicle is included in a recall?

Whenever a flaw is proven and an automobile recall is announced, the manufacturer is responsible for advising owners, dealers and the federal government and then must fix the problem involved for free. The vehicle owners will be made aware of any recall through the U.S. postal system. The recall letter has to provide specific information, such as the location which will repair the defect, the time frame during which the repair may be made and the length of time required to effect the repair. Law mandates that the manufacturer abide by this procedure. It is also possible to obtain information regarding the recall on the website of the NHTSA.

What action do I take in the event that I get a recall announcement?

Law mandates that the manufacturer resolve the problem and to do so they have three methods which they may use: repair, replace or refund. Should you have previously incurred an expense to have the issue which is named in the recall corrected, it is probable that you can receive a reimbursement from the manufacturer.  But it will be necessary for you to produce your receipts. According to the law, the manufacturer does not have to reimburse these expenses or costs incurred to correct damage which resulted from the defect. But in numerous instances, the consumer may be successful in coming to a private arrangement.

According to law, an affected automobile owner qualifies for one of the three remedies previously mentioned if the automobile is less than ten years of age as of the date on which the flaw is registered. The vehicle’s age is calculated from the date on which it was originally purchased. Should the affected vehicle be greater than ten years of age, it is advisable to have the issue investigated and corrected on your own.

What is the process followed in the event of a tire recall?

Manufacturers must adhere to the same notification process for a tire recall. To qualify for a free correction from the manufacturer, the tires on your can must not exceed five years of age at the time that the recall is announced. To obtain a free tire replacement or repair, the owner has sixty days from the date of notification to return it to the dealer.

In some instances, if an issue is prevalent but not a serious safety threat, manufacturers may choose to put out a safety notification rather than a recall. Since a recall is extremely costly, manufacturers will abstain from it whenever possible. During a safety advisory, a manufacturer has to advise owners of possible issues and provide reasonable solutions.