NHTSA safety recalls

How to handle open vehicle recall?

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To get started let’s review what an open recall is. A motor vehicle recall occurs when a manufacturer (or the NHTSA) determines that a car has a safety-related defect. Also, a recall can be initiated if a vehicle does not comply with a federal safety standard. A defect may exist in a group of vehicles of the same design or manufacture and pose unreasonable risk to driver safety. 

The law gives the manufacturer three options for correcting a recall: repair, replacement, or refund. In the case of equipment such as tires, car seats, and boosters—the manufacturer must repair or replace the affected parts at no charge as well. When you find out that there is a recall associated with your vehicle, the first thing to do is to contact the manufacturer or local official dealer to set up a remedy. 

However, you should know that there are some limitations on getting a vehicle repaired at no charge. The limitation is based on the age of the vehicle. The vehicle shouldn’t be more than 15 years old on the date the defect is determined. The vehicle’s age is calculated from the first date of sale. Despite that, the owners of older cars must realize that even though manufacturers are not obligated to repair a defect, a safety problem might still exist. So, if you get a recall notification on a vehicle older than 15 years, take the responsibility to have your car repaired at your own expense. 

Apart from age limitations, sometimes a manufacturer may challenge the NHTSA’s decision to initiate a recall. In this case, there is no obligation for the manufacturer to conduct repair services while the case is in court. If you decide to have your vehicle fixed at your own expense when the recall is pending, you can apply for reimbursement after a recall is finally initiated. Basically, all manufacturers are required to provide reimbursement if a defect is based on either the date NHTSA opens its Engineering Analysis, or one year prior to the manufacturer’s notification of a defect to NHTSA. The closing date is 10 days after the manufacturer sends the last notices informing owners of a safety defect recall and cost-free remedy. For equipment replacement, the closing date is either the same as for motor vehicles or 30 days after the manufacturer’s closing of its efforts to provide public notice of the existence of a defect, whichever is later.

If your car is absolutely eligible for a free remedy and a dealer still refuses to provide repairs, you should immediately notify the manufacturer. In most cases, according to agreement between a manufacturer and its dealers, all dealers have to provide а recall remedy at no extra charge – regardless of where the vehicle or equipment was originally purchased. Therefore, the consumers can apply for a free remedy within a reasonable time at the nearest official service center. 

However, it is also worth mentioning that there is usually a time lag between the date a recall was warranted, and the date the remedy becomes available to consumers as the manufacturer needs to identify owners, develop remedial procedures, instruct dealers, distribute necessary parts or equipment, and notify all customers. As a rule, if a manufacturer needs extra time to develop a remedy process, the NHTSA requires them to send an additional interim notice to ensure that a consumer is aware of the recall. Dealerships are not required to provide a remedy at this time. So, if the dealership refuses to take care of your recall, it may also mean that they received related parts or instructions and you should postpone your repair.  

Recall information is a safety risk, so ClearVin provides a free recall checkup service. Remember, vehicles with open recalls are a safety hazard to you, your passengers, and to others on the road alike, so do not ignore the necessity to get it completed!

1 comment
  1. Everything is very open with a precise description of the challenges.
    It was definitely informative. Your site is extremely helpful.
    Thank you for sharing!

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