Millions of cars have some form of safety recall. See if your car is one of them.
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Car Recall Questions
What do I do if I've gotten a recall notice?
First: Read the notice carefully and don't ignore it. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, only 75% of vehicles involved in a recall are actually repaired. So be sure to pay attention when you see an envelope in the mail labelled "Safety Recall Notice".
The notice will tell you what the defect is, possible warning signs and what to do next. And while a recall notice might dredge up feelings of fear and anxiety, focus on two bits of good news:
- the manufacturer has identified the issue and a way to fix it
- recall-related repairs don't cost you anything for parts or labor
Second: Bring your vehicle to the dealer.
Next, make a service appointment with an authorized dealer who sells that brand. It doesn't have to be the same place where you bought it, and it doesn't matter if you bought the car new or used. But you DO need to take it to an authorized dealer. If your family mechanic does the recall repairs, you'll probably be responsible for the cost.
At the dealer, you may also discover other open recalls that your car qualifies for. The dealer is obligated to complete these repairs too - also at no cost to you.
Third: The dealer makes the repairs.
For many people, the hardest part is finding a convenient time for the recall-related repairs. Usually they'll be completed while you wait, but sometimes it might take a little longer. Ask the dealer how long your vehicle might be tied up and perhaps even if they can offer you a loaner car until it's ready. Or if you have a little more time to plan, find out what services and amenities your local dealer offers.
For more about what to do in a recall, read the full article
How do I check for a recall on my car?
In most cases, the automaker will send you a notice in the mail to announce a recall. But if you're the proactive type - or if you bought the car used - you might want to check for a recall yourself. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), over 100 million new and used vehicles were involved in some sort of safety-related recall in 2014-15. Recalls vary in severity, but they all relate to the safety of the vehicle, so they're all worth paying attention to.
Start by looking up the year, make and model of your vehicle on a site like KBB.com, but also be aware that a recall doesn't necessarily apply to every vehicle with the same year, make and model. Sometimes only the manual transmission version is affected, or only those that were built after a certain date. The best way to know for sure is to call the phone number that we provide on your vehicle's recall page or go to the government NHTSA site and look up your specific car by its 17-character VIN number.
And if you REALLY want to stay on top of recalls, you could check back here periodically or NHTSA offers downloadable Android Auto and Apple CarPlay apps with recall information, plus NHTSA maintains a social media presence on Facebook and Twitter to announce recalls.
For more about how to stay current on recalls, read the full article.
Do I pay for recall repairs?
Once the manufacturer (or NHTSA) has discovered that a safety recall is necessary on your vehicle, you won't have to pay anything for recall-related repairs. All the parts and labor necessary to complete the repair are paid for by the manufacturer (who reimburses the dealer). This is true even if you bought the car used or bought it from a private party.
A few things to keep in mind:
- The repairs must be completed at an authorized dealer who sells that brand of vehicle. If you choose to use your own mechanic, you might end up paying the bill.
- If you received a recall letter in the mail, bring it to the dealer. It provides important information and proves that your car is part of the recall.
- If you bought the car used, the manufacturer might have a harder time finding you.
There is one exception to the fact that recall repairs are free - vehicles older than 10 years old are outside the statute of limitation and usually don't qualify.
Why is a vehicle recalled?
A recall occurs when a manufacturer or NHTSA (the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) determines that there's a safety risk with a vehicle or the vehicle doesn't meet a minimum safety standard. Usually, a recall covers only certain parts or equipment on a vehicle; it's rare for the whole vehicle to be recalled.
Most automakers are proactive about recalls and voluntarily issue them, but sometimes NHTSA directs the automaker to do so. Some recalls get a lot of press, as with high-profile recalls relating to airbags in the last few years, but more often, recalls happen without much fanfare.
Recalls are only issued in cases where the vehicle's safety is in question, but that doesn't mean you're in immediate danger. Even so, you should have the repairs done as soon as you can. The good news is that, in case of a recall, the automaker has discovered a fix - and that fix is available at no cost to you (except, perhaps, for the hours the vehicle is being repaired).
Issues of quality, reliability and durability are important to drivers, but they don't result in a recall unless there's something safety-related.
Finally, please keep in mind just because there's a recall on cars matching your car's make and model, it doesn't mean that your car is affected. To know for sure, we provide a number you can call to check if your car is part of the recall. You'll need to have your car's unique 17-character VIN number handy when you call.