Recalls Guide

I Have a Recall on My Vehicle. What do I do?

Manufacturer recalls are becoming increasingly common. In fact, in 2015 there was an all-time high of 51 million vehicles recalled. This being so, you should expect that at some point during your ownership of a vehicle you will need to get recall work completed. And although a recall starts with the manufacturer actually issuing one, the responsibility falls on you as the owner to actually get the work completed. The question is, once you receive a recall notice, what do you do? The simple response is, take your vehicle into the dealership. However, there can be a bit more to it than that.

Receiving a Recall and Finding Open Recalls

Manufacturers typically do a good job of reaching out to the affected owners in order to make them aware of the issue that needs attention. This is especially true for safety related issues. The typical process is for the manufacturer to issue a recall notice that is mailed to the registered owner’s address. This notice will outline what needs to be addressed, provide an evaluation of risk, possible warning signs, and will detail any potential safety hazards the problem presents.

However, if you don’t receive a notice, the NHTSA and other websites list current and past recalls on all makes and models. Even if you don’t receive a hard copy letter from the manufacturer, if your vehicle is affected by the recall, they are obligated to complete the work at their expense.

Depending on the severity of the issue, the manufacturer can elect to repair the issue (most common route), replace the vehicle with an identical or similar vehicle, or refund the owner.

Scheduling the Appointment

Being that a record number of recalls are being issued, it’s vital to schedule the work as quickly as you can. A slow reaction can result in a delay in the repair being completed (see the Takata airbag debacle).

Parts shortages, full work schedules, and other factors come into play for these large recall announcements. And if it’s a safety related issue, the manufacturer may advise that the vehicle should not be driven. If that’s the case they’ll typically provide a vehicle or an allowance for a rental, but that’s just another hurdle for you to jump.

Is There an Expiration Date?

The age of your vehicle comes into play in regards to getting recall work completed at no cost. However, it’s not a small window.  In order to be eligible for work at no cost, the NHTSA states that work must be completed within 10 years of the original sale date of the vehicle.

And there’s hope if you had work completed on your own. Depending on the timing of the recall being initiated and when you had work completed, you may be eligible for reimbursement. There are many timing factors that come in play in this instance, so it’s best to always check with the manufacturer in the event you see a recall being released for work that you had previously paid to have completed.

Tire Recalls

As we all know, tires can be extremely costly and annoying to replace. Even though they last for years, it always seems like you’re going in to have them replaced. This being so, if you get a tire recall notice, mash the gas, get to the vendor, and get those things replaced!

The guidelines and timelines on tire recalls are a bit stricter. Law requires the tire manufacturer to repair or replace any affected tires, at no cost to you, that were purchased within 5 years of the defect or noncompliant determination. However, in order for this no-cost replacement to take place, you must bring the tires into the vendor within 60 days of receiving the notification letter. If the tire manufacturer does not have replacements available at that time, it’s vital that you get a written acknowledgement of such from the vender.

Stay Up-To-Date

If you’re the proactive type, you can always search the web for outstanding recalls on your vehicle. There are websites that will announce new or upcoming recalls, as well as any past recalls, so you should always be able to stay up-to-date. And you should be sure to take advantage of these recalls, as it’s more than likely the only time you’ll ever get work done for free!


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