While we expect our vehicles to run smoothly, sometimes they are plagued by defects. Sometimes these issues are minor—like the glove box not closing properly—while others are engine failures that can cause deadly accidents. A recall can affect any component of the car and affect anywhere from dozens of cars to millions of them.
The Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Georgia’s rules of the road require auto manufacturers to recall vehicles that have safety-related defects or which fail to meet federal safety standards. Since 1966, more than 390 million vehicles have been recalled.
Knowing that your car is affected by a recall can be upsetting. Safety is a huge issue for car buyers. The good news is that if your car has been recalled for any reason, you will most likely know about it. The manufacturer will send a notice in the mail. You will probably hear about the recall on the news.
Another thing to keep in mind is that just because a specific part is recalled, it does not necessarily mean it will fail. But, unfortunately, sometimes they do, and you should be especially concerned if the recalled part involves the accelerator, brake, fuel system, suspension, or steering. Any issues in these components can lead to serious accidents.
What Are Your Options?
If any part of your vehicle is defective, manufacturers are required to provide a remedy free of charge and in a timely manner. The manufacturer can choose from one of three remedies. If the repair is small and fairly easy for the dealership to fix, then the manufacturer will likely opt to repair the defect. This option is quite common.
Replacement is another option. If a part cannot be fixed, then the manufacturer may opt to replace it with a defect-free part. A refund is also available, but only if the entire car is being recalled—not just a specific part. This type of recall isn’t very common, as it’s typically just one part that’s causing issues.
You should respond to a recall notice right away, especially if it involves a major component that could affect the car’s ability to drive. If the manufacturer tells you to stop driving the car right away—which is highly unlikely—take that notice seriously. The manufacturer should provide a loaner car—and towing service, if applicable—free of charge. You should never have to pay out of pocket for a defect that was not your fault.
If the defect is not safety-related—such as a faulty radio or air condition, a missing part on the glovebox, rust, or paint issues—you may not need to act right away, but you should still get the problem fixed, especially since the manufacturer is offering to do so free of charge.
Report the Problem
If your vehicle has not been recalled, but you believe it has a safety issue that should be fixed by the manufacturer, you should first take it to the dealer. The dealer may be able to fix the problem, especially if it is still under warranty. If the warranty has expired or if the dealer cannot fix the issue, contact the NHTSA. This agency can investigate the issue, especially if other consumers have reported similar issues. Don’t think that you’re the only person having an issue with your vehicle. Be proactive and try to get the issue fixed before people are injured or killed.
File a Lawsuit
Getting a car part repaired or replaced as part of a recall does not waive your right to take legal action. You can still sue for damages caused by the defect. Getting the brakes fixed does not cover the lost wages and medical bills you ended up with after your brakes failed and you hit a building.