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How Used Car Buyers Can Navigate Safety Recalls

With only around 17.3 million people buying new cars every year, most car buyers in America are buying used vehicles. With massive recalls like the Takata airbag recall which may impact up to 85 million vehicles across a variety of brands and only 7.5 million of these recalled vehicles have been remedied, it is more important than ever for people buying used cars to understand their recall rights. Here is what used car buyers should do to make sure that the vehicle they are purchasing has all the necessary recall repairs.

What Is A Vehicle Safety Recall?

A vehicle safety recall is when a vehicle or a vehicle part has been recalled because it is malfunctioning or dangerous. A vehicle safety recall is often issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The NHTSA regulates the safety of vehicles on the road and manages all recalls. A recall may also be issued directly by the manufacturer when they have discovered a defect. In both cases, recalled parts are replaced or repaired at no cost to the vehicle owner. You will be notified of any recall affecting your vehicle by mail. During the recall period, the NHTSA will oversee the recall and ensure that it is being done quickly and correctly.

Check Your Used Car For Recalls

Before purchasing or even once in the possession of a used car, you want to check your car to see if there have been any recalls. You can do this by entering the vehicle identification number (VIN) at the NHTSA website found at Any current or previous recalls will be listed. You can also directly contact the manufacturer of the vehicle with the VIN to see if there have been any important recalls. You can even contact the local dealership and inquiry about any recalls affecting your vehicle. Finally, Carmax, an independent car research website, offers a free recall service check at

If You Find a Recall

If you find that your vehicle is subject to a recall, you need to get the recalled part repaired or replaced immediately to ensure that your vehicle is safe to drive. If you car was bought in the last ten years, you can seek remediation from the manufacturer. Contact your manufacturer or local dealership and find out how you can go about getting your vehicle remedied and they will give you instructions on how to go about having the part repaired or replaced. Unfortunately if your car is older than ten years, you will not qualify for a recall remediation and will have to take the car to be repaired at your own cost.

Ways To Protect Yourself

Since there are cases where a recall will have to be remedied on your own dime, you need to make sure you take some steps so that you don’t buy a car that requires costly recall repairs. First, before buying a vehicle, check to make sure that any recall has been remedied. You can do this by researching recalls then understanding the car repair history. Contact the seller and see if they can provide proof that the recall has been dealt with, if they cannot contact the manufacturer to make sure that you are still covered if you buy the vehicle. This should help you avoid buying a car with a costly recall repair.

Once you have bought the car, to prevent future risks from recalls, make sure to register your used car with the auto manufacturer and local dealership. That way if there are any future recalls, you will be immediately informed and can get the problem remedied as soon as possible.

With so many auto recalls, you want to make sure that any car you buy, regardless if it is new or used is safe. Even as a used vehicle owner, you are protected by the law from the risks of dangerous vehicles as a result of recalls.