What You Need to Know About Car Recalls
Our goal is to make sure you have the information you need so you don’t pay for a repair that was covered in a recall.
Although there are fewer problems with cars than ever before, manufacturers are under legal and public pressure to publish recalls. They not only want to prevent injuries, but they also want to prevent a decline in sales. At first, finding out that your vehicle is part of a recall can seem like a huge inconvenience, but working through the process can be painless if you know what to expect.
First you need to know if your car is affected by a recall.
If you get your car maintenance and repairs at a dealership, they should always check to make sure you have taken care of any recalls. Your car manufacturer is required to send you recall information, so make sure they have your current address. If you would like to check and see if your car has any recalls, go to www.recalls.gov or call any dealership that handles your vehicle’s manufacturer and give them your Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). You can find your VIN number on your insurance information, registration, on your windshield, or on your car door. The reason they need a VIN number is to determine if the recall applies to your specific car. Recalls are usually for cars manufactured at certain plants within certain periods of time. A bad batch of parts could have come from a certain plant on a certain date, but the same part manufactured at another plant or at a different time might be free of problems. There also may have been a design change or change in the manufacturing process, causing only some cars to have bad parts. Searching by your VIN ensures that your particular vehicle is without a doubt included in the recall.
If you have already paid for repairs on your car, check and make sure there was no recall issued that pertains to the work you had done. Most manufacturers will give you your money back for repairs covered under the recall as long as you have a receipt. For the actual recall laws, check out http://www.recalls.gov or http://www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov. If you personally fixed a problem on your car that ended up being a recall, save the receipt for any parts you purchased and they may refund you for those parts. If you are at a dealership and they tell you they will not reimburse you, call the manufacturer directly.
According to cnn.com, “A third of all vehicles recalled by automakers are never brought to dealers.” There are various reasons for this. Sometimes the car owner simply does not know about the recall. If the car has had multiple owners, the manufacturer may not have the current owner’s contact information. When a brand has gone out of business, like Saturn, owners are sometimes not aware that they can go to any GM dealership and get the recall taken care of. Sometimes people just don’t feel like dealing with a recall. According to Clarence Ditlow, Executive Director of the Center for Auto Safety, the Ford Pinto that was at risk of an exploding gas tank had only 52% of its cars brought in for the free repair. Many recalls may not be that dangerous, but just to be on the safe side, make sure if a recall is issued on your vehicle that you make an appointment to get the repairs done.