Whether you watch the news, read the newspaper, or browse articles online, it’s hard not to see news of some recall or another: animal food, car seats, ice cream, automobiles.
An auto recall occurs when a manufacturer determines that a car model has a safety-related defect or does not comply with a federal safety standard. When this happens, the automaker will alert owners to the problem and usually offer a free repair.
How do I know about a recall on my car?
When a manufacturer initiates a recall, whether it be for a major or minor problem, it sends a letter to car owners with instructions to take their vehicle to a dealership to have replacement parts installed.
When you get a letter, call your local dealership and let them know that you need an appointment for a replacement installation. Typically, parts are in stock, and it shouldn’t take long for them to get the switch made. Sometimes, if it is a major recall, there will be a waiting list for service or replacement parts. If that’s the case and you are put on a waiting list, ask the dealership to notify you when it has the parts in stock.
If you aren’t the vehicle’s first owner, you may never find out if it’s the subject of a recall as letters are sent to the registered owner at the time of the recall. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is a great way to stay up-to-date on recalls.
If there is a delay, can I still drive my car?
Ask the dealership if you or your passengers are in any danger if you continue to drive your vehicle until your appointment. Your automaker will tell you to stop driving the vehicle if it is unsafe to drive. If that’s the case, your automaker should make arrangements to tow your car to the dealership and to have a loaner provided for you.
How long do I have to get the repairs made?
According to the NHTSA, the statute of limitations for all no-charge recall repairs is ten years from the original sale date of the vehicle. The one exception to this statute is the tires. Tire recall repairs must be completed within sixty days of receiving the recall notice.
Although a recall on your vehicle might pose a nuisance, it’s best to get it handled right away. Don’t ignore the notice as even seemingly minor recalls can involve life-threatening defects.