The largest scale safety recall in automotive history recently occurred*, affecting more than 100 million vehicles from 19 manufacturers using airbag inflation devices made by Japanese auto parts manufacturer Takata. Takata recently filed for bankruptcy because of this recall, and this is just one example of how a vehicle recall can have dramatic implications.
What If The Manufacturer Recalls My Vehicle?
In light of the recent Takata airbag issue, many vehicle owners may wonder how to find out if there have been any recalls associated with their vehicles. Most auto manufacturers and dealerships have policies in place to notify their customers of recalls, usually by mail, but people often move or miss these notices and may not realize there is a recall.
How To Find Out Your Vehicle’s Recall Information
One of the best ways to stay on top of your vehicle’s maintenance needs is by using a vehicle maintenance tracking application or service like Carfax.
- Download the MyCarfax app to your Android phone or iPhone and use it to research your vehicle’s maintenance issues, discover associated recalls, and even look at how much it may cost to repair your vehicle in the future.
- Be sure to enter your vehicle’s specific information into this application or the Carfax web-based service so you get accurate recall information. This usually includes your vehicle’s Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) and your license plate number. This allows you to see your specific vehicle’s history.
- After inputting your vehicle’s required information, check the recall status of your vehicle. If there are any recalls associated with the make and model year of your vehicle, make an appointment with your dealership or a certified manufacturer service center right away to have the necessary repairs done as soon as possible.
What To Do After You Confirm A Recall For Your Vehicle
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)** collects and publishes all vehicle recall data for public reference. Reporting a vehicle safety issue to the NHTSA is important; they add these reports to the public NHTSA database after removing personal information. If the NHTSA receives many reports about similar issues with the same type of car from other drivers, this could indicate a defect with that vehicle make and model. The NHTSA thoroughly investigates all vehicle defect claims to protect the public.
The NHTSA screens all vehicle safety complaints, and if enough drivers file similar reports they open an investigation into the issue. An investigation may not identify any specific safety issues or defects responsible for these complaints, or they may discover a problem and notify the manufacturer of relevant recall information.
How Do Manufacturers Handle Recalls?
Once a manufacturer receives defect information from the NHTSA, they have a legal obligation to publicly announce the issue and offer a solution. For minor recalls, the manufacturer may offer free replacements of defective parts or free repairs. For more serious defects, the manufacturer may require recalls of whole vehicles, replacing them with non-defective vehicles or offering refunds to drivers for the purchase price, but this is very rare.
Manufacturers may handle a recall by offering repairs, replacement parts, or in rare cases offering refunds or repurchasing of defective vehicles. It is essential to keep track of all recall information related to your vehicle; most recalls only allow for a certain time to have the free repair work completed, and although this time frame may be several months or even a year or longer, it is important to act quickly. The longer you drive with a known defect in your vehicle, the greater the risk of the defect causing an accident and even more costly repairs.
If you wait too long to handle your vehicle’s recall you may need to pay for the repair or replacement work yourself. If you sat idle concerning a recall, you may have trouble trading in or selling your vehicle in the future unless you can provide proof that you had the recall work performed. You may need to pay out-of-pocket and have this work completed before you can transfer ownership of the vehicle.
Things To Remember When Buying A New Or Used Vehicle
If you purchase a new vehicle and the manufacturer issues a recall, the dealership will likely have your current information and contact you about the issue relatively quickly. However, some defects do not appear for many years after production. It’s possible for a person to purchase a defective vehicle, notice no issues, and then trade in or sell the vehicle before the recall ever comes to light.
Carfax and other vehicle history report services are invaluable because they track recalls and known issues by VIN number; you can see the history of an individual vehicle relatively easily with these services, and vehicle sellers should be transparent about the histories of the used vehicles in their inventory. If you want to purchase a used vehicle but you know the make and model year was in any way involved with a recent recall, be sure the previous owner had the necessary work performed to avoid potentially costly and frustrating issues down the road.