The last couple of years have featured record numbers of vehicle recalls for a variety of reasons, many of them potentially dangerous and possibly deadly. A few years back, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) took some heat for being a bit too lenient on car makers when it came to safety recalls and they responded by streamlining the process and making sure manufacturers were more responsible, which means two straight years of record numbers of recalls. Since then, problems with airbags, brakes and ignition switches have led to hundreds of deaths and injuries, but just as importantly, it has led to massive recalls of tens of millions of vehicles.
In this new era of greater enforcement, two new problems have cropped up. The first one has to do with consumers finding out if their vehicle has been recalled in the first place, and the second is knowing what to do if and when a vehicle you own has been recalled.
Check Before Buying a Recalled Vehicle
If you are about to buy a new or used car, you can go to the NHTSA website, input the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) and find out about any safety alerts or vehicle recalls before buying the car. If you are the original vehicle owner, you should receive an official written notification from the company that manufactured your vehicle. If not, a periodic check of the NHTSA site might be a good idea. Double-check to make sure your vehicle is recalled, however; commonly manufacturers only recall some vehicles in a given model year.
If you find out your vehicle has been recalled, what you do next will depend on the issue that led to the recall. Many issues can be fixed with a simple visit to your local dealer for service. In fact, if you normally go to your dealer for service calls, you have a leg up because the dealer will probably notify you that your car is being recalled and offer to repair it on the spot, if the repair is relatively minor.
If your vehicle has been recalled and you receive an official recall letter from the manufacturer, be sure to follow the instructions in that letter exactly. Most of the time, you’ll be required to call the local dealer to set up a repair appointment, but make sure you follow up. It’s never a matter of money; if your vehicle is subject to recall, the dealer will never charge you for the repairs related to the recall.
Dealing With Repairs for Vehicle Recalls
Having a recall repair done as soon as possible is often very important. Most vehicle recalls are for safety issues and, while some safety issues are less urgent than others, if you don’t take care of it right away, you may forget and a relatively minor problem could turn into a much bigger problem later. One very obvious consequence of disregarding a vehicle recall is the risk of having the defect cause you to get into an auto accident and be injured, which is very important to you and your family. However, another consequence of putting off your response to a recall may come if you’re in an accident and you’re attempting to collect damages from another party. If the other party can show you had been warned about the issue and had plenty of time to fix the problem before the accident, you may have a far more difficult time trying to recover damages or, due to contributory negligence issues, you may also lose a good portion of your recovery.
Auto manufacturers are always looking for 100 percent compliance with recall orders, but the compliance rates usually average from two-thirds to four-fifths of affected vehicles. Most of the time, if there’s a failure to repair a defect, it is because owners don’t follow up on the notice they receive. Don’t be one of those; it costs nothing to repair a recalled vehicle; failure to do so could cost loved ones’ lives. If you have any questions or issues with your recall or defective parts, the motor vehicle accident attorneys in Corpus Christi at the Gutierrez Law firm are happy to help.