Millions of cars are recalled every year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, up from around eight million by 2021. Notifying the automaker that your vehicle is one of them and has a security flaw is not only alarming, it can lead to a barrage of questions.
What do i do next? How can I take care of it? Will it cost me anything?
Even more urgent is how urgent it is to fix the problem. The answer is that while minor maintenance can easily slip without causing major problems, the safety concerns a recall applies to are not a footnote to the “Maybe Someday” section of your to-do list. Recalls vary in urgency and sometimes repairs cannot be done immediately by the dealer because spare parts are not available. It can be months before they are. But, as a recent case in South Carolina shows, procrastination can be fatal.
In January, the driver of a 2002 Honda Accord died of an accident in which the car’s airbag was deployed. When the 19th death in the United States was caused by splinters from a broken Takata airbag inflator, it was hardly unprecedented. But there was a twist this time around: Honda, which recalled the car in 2011, said it had attempted more than 100 times to reach the owner of the car via mail, phone, and through personal visits. The faulty inflators were never replaced.
The Takata recall, the largest in history, affects 100 million inflaters, including 67 million in the United States. And these recalls aren’t all a decade old. As recently as March, Ford recalled 2.6 million cars, trucks and sport utility vehicles to replace the Takata driver-side airbag components.
Measures can be taken against security threats that occur even when the vehicles are parked. In March, several Hyundai and Genesis models were recalled to correct electrical shorts that created a fire risk. In this case, the Road Safety Agency advised owners to “park their cars outside and outside of houses, other structures and other combustible materials” to prevent loss of property.
Recalls aren’t about customer complaints like air conditioning or a rusty fender. They are specifically security problems, even if the danger is sometimes not readily apparent. Fixing the problem should be done ASAP, and the automaker will pay for it.
You need to contact the owners via email. However, if you weren’t home during the pandemic, chances are you missed the notification. And if you’ve bought a used car, the recall notification may not have caught you.
You can easily check if a vehicle has been recalled by entering the 17-digit vehicle identification number (or chassis number) on the security agency’s website – nhtsa.gov/recalls. You can find the chassis number in the license plate and often on the insurance card. It can also be seen through the glass at the bottom of the driver’s side windshield.
Checking for recalls is a must, especially if you are buying a used car. This search will tell you whether the vehicle has been recalled in the last 15 calendar years and whether the problem has been resolved. The report covers major automakers, motorcycle manufacturers, and some medium / heavy truck manufacturers.
If the vehicle has not been recalled or if the defect has been rectified, the following message is displayed: 0 Unrepaired recalls related to this VIN. Recently announced callbacks may not appear due to the time it takes for the VINs to be identified. Therefore, you may have to look again.
Recalls are carried out by the car manufacturer, but can be ordered by the security agency. The process can begin when an automaker discovers a Problems with regular quality checks or defects occur through the dealer network. According to the law, if a car manufacturer learns of a security deficiency, it must notify the security authorities immediately.
The process can also start with consumer complaints filed in the agency database. These complaints will be examined and if further action is required after an analysis, an investigation will be carried out is opened. If this is a problem, a callback will be initiated. In practice, automakers usually start recalls themselves before the agency intervenes. The security agency oversees the process to ensure that customer notifications are properly issued and repairs are tracked.
The automaker can repair the defect, replace the vehicle with an identical or similar specification, or refund the full purchase price (adjusted for depreciation). If you’ve already paid for repairs that would have been made as part of the recall, the automaker will often have to reimburse you.