Updated March 2019
Every year millions of cars are recalled. Here’s what you need to do to if yours is one of them.
Recall announcements are often made by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) rather than the automaker. You probably have better things to do than pour over NHTSA’s database, so we publish announcements about widespread recalls.
SEE ALSO: Automotive Safety Recalls
You can also check to see if your car is affected by a recall by going to the “vehicle owners” section of SaferCar.gov and searching for your vehicle. Vehicles aren’t the only products that NHTSA requests to be recalled by the manufacturer. Child seats and tires are monitored for safety concerns as well.
The letter will inform you that there’s a potential safety concern with your vehicle and generally will ask you to take it to an authorized dealer for service. In some cases, like when there’s a need for a replacement part, the letter will state when the safety fix will be available and how long the repair will take. In some extreme cases, the letter will even tell you to stop driving your car.
Don’t worry if you lost the letter or didn’t receive it in the first place. You can still obtain the notice of the recall from the NHTSA website and take it to your local dealership to get help. Just click the link above to go directly to the correct page.
Fixed Free of Charge
It’s also possible to apply for reimbursement from the manufacturer if you paid to fix the issue before the recall was announced.
Unfortunately, there are scenarios where you can be stuck paying for the repair. If your car hasn’t been fixed within 10 years of the recall notice then you’ll be on the hook for the cost. Additionally, manufacturers may challenge NHTSA’s recall request in court. If the case is still open, then you’ll have to pay out of pocket as well. It’s important to save the paperwork from the repair because you can be reimbursed retroactively if the court decides to uphold the recall.
Pain Free Safety
It can be easy to confuse recalls with “technical service bulletins” (TSBs), because they both offer no-charge remedies. However, recalls are requested by NHTSA in order for the automaker to meet the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, while TSBs are manufacturer-provided solutions for unsatisfactory performance or unforeseen repairs.
It’s also important to understand that sometimes, manufacturers also voluntarily issue recalls without being asked by the government.
With your car repaired and up to safety code, you’re good to drive with confidence. Don’t forget that recalled vehicles can be recalled again.