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What To Do If Your Vehicle Has Been Recalled

When a vehicle is recalled, this means that either the vehicle manufacturer or the NHTSA has determined that a specific model (or several models within a certain period) either has a safety related defect, or just does not comply with a federal safety standard. The auto manufacturer will alert those who own these models of the issue, and typically offer a free repair.

Keeping in mind that a vehicle recall does not mean the entire vehicle will be replaced, the companies that make them are required by law to send letters to alert their customers who are affected, and if you’re ever curious, you can also find the up-to-date information on recalls on the NHTSA website. The recall letter should contain information such as:

  • A description of the defect(s);

  • The hazard or risks posed by the issue;

  • Potential warning signs of the issue;

  • How they (the manufacturer) plans to fix the issue, including when repairs are available and how long they will take;

  • Instructions on what you should do next.

If you receive a recall letter, it’s important you follow the instructions provided on what you should do next. Some recalls, such as tire recalls, have a certain time frame in which you must have the repair done from receiving the letter, so be sure to read the letter carefully so you fully understand the terms of the recall.

Am I In Immediate Danger?

If your vehicle is on a recall list, this doesn’t automatically mean you are in danger. However, if you learn that your vehicle is currently or has recently been under a safety recall, it’s always best not to take the risk. Having your vehicle examined and repaired as soon as possible is always in your best interest, especially if the defect poses a major safety hazard, but this is also where reading the letter in full can help you – a safety recall poses a threat, but a minor cosmetic recall isn’t going to be a threat and is usually safe to take lightly.

Do I Have To Pay For Repairs?

Absolutely not. If your vehicle is under a safety recall or on the NHTSA’s recall list, all repairs are the responsibility of the manufacturer, and should be done free of charge. You’ll have to take the vehicle to an authorized dealer that is contracted directly with the manufacturer, and if you want to avoid any and all complications, it’s always best to bring your recall letter along with you if you have one, or print the recall list from the NHTSA’s website to bring with you if you don’t.

If the dealer attempts to charge you for the repairs anyway, you can and should ask to speak with a manager to explain the situation. If they are unable to help or give you any problems, your next step should be to contact the manufacturer or the NHTSA (1-888-327-4236) to report the issue as soon as possible to get it resolved.