Vehicle safety is the highest priority for every auto manufacturer. As new cars and trucks accumulate miles on the road, profiles emerge that often identify hidden defects. For many drivers, a vehicle recall notice can cause a great deal of anxiety and confusion. If you receive a notice, it is important to act immediately to ensure the drivers and passengers that normally travel in your vehicle remain safe.
What Triggers a Vehicle Recall?
A recall notice results from a design or engineering defect that affects the safety or functionality of the vehicle. Recalls are typically clustered in a certain model or particular year. Most recalls are issued after a thorough investigation by the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). When enough evidence is gathered to identify a wide-spread safety issue, the findings are released in a published report. If the manufacturer does not initiate a voluntary recall, the NHTSA can enforce the action.
The Vehicle Recall Process
Automakers recalled nearly 64 million vehicles in 2014, which was the highest number in history. In fact, nearly 25 percent of the cars and light trucks on the road were subject to a recall last year. In most instances, drivers are not directly impacted by a recall, but the defect should always be repaired even if the vehicle seems to be operating correctly.
When a recall is issued, the owners of specified vehicles are contacted through email, phone and standard mail. The Official Safety Recall Notice will also be posted on multiple social media websites, including the NHTSA’s own online facility. The notice will provide details of the safety issue and instructions on where to take the vehicle for service.
Since cars often change hands through the years, the automaker will make every attempt to locate the vehicle and notify the current owner(s) of the recall. The NHTSA provides a VIN number search engine on its website, which instantly identifies any outstanding recalls on the vehicle. Manufacturers are given 60 days from the date recorded on the Official Safety Recall Notice to address the defect and complete the repairs.
How Will the Vehicle be Repaired?
Vehicles are usually fixed by a local dealer-affiliate who is certified by the manufacturer. The Official Safety Recall Notice identifies the specific repairs that must be completed to satisfy the recall mandate. Depending on the severity of the problem, some recalls require the dealer to provide a rental car. If the repair is too extensive, the automaker may elect to replace the vehicle.
Who Pays for the Repairs?
In almost every instance, the manufacturer pays for the repairs since the release of a recall notice is essentially an admission of fault. However, a Technical Service Bulletin (TSB) differs from a recall and may not be covered by the manufacturer. If an accident is caused by a manufacturer’s defect, the repair costs and damages are usually settled through litigation.
Although vehicle recalls seem to be increasing, cars are actually safer than ever before and new safety features continue to be added all the time. If you do get a recall notice, don’t ignore it. In order to stay safe, you want to be sure your vehicle is in perfect condition.