Vehicle Safety Recalls
What does a vehicle recall mean?
A vehicle recall is issued when an auto manufacturer or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) determines that a vehicle’s equipment, car seats, or tires do not meet minimum safety standards. Defects can be discovered in a number of ways, including an automaker’s in-house review, customer complaints, or a catastrophic accident related to the defect. Defects can be found in a group of vehicles of the same make, model, or equipment of the same type and pose a risk to vehicle safety. NHTSA monitors each safety recall to ensure owners receive a safe, free and effective remedy from the manufacturer in accordance with safety laws and federal regulations. If there is an open safety recall, your manufacturer will resolve the problem for free.
Why is it important to do a recall check?
In 2015, automakers recalled a record 51.2 million vehicles in 868 separate recalls, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Additionally, some cars that were involved in an accident before the recall date are not eligible for a free recall. In this case, a careless driver or dealer will often skip the repair altogether, hoping to get rid of the breakdown. As a result, you get a car with accelerators that freeze, damaged steering components, or any other defects until the engine blows up. These reasons are enough to check auto recalls before buying, right?
When buying a vehicle, you need to check for any previous safety recalls, especially if it’s a used car. When you buy a new one, you don’t have to worry about an open safety recall because the manufacturer is legally obligated to repair it. However, this is not the case with used cars.
Therefore, a recall check is necessary to ensure that your car does not have a safety recall. Remember that publicly recalled vehicles pose a safety risk to passengers and other road users. So don’t overlook the need to accomplish this.
iSeeCars.com compiled a following list of the car series with the fewest and most frequent recalls since 1985, reporting recall rates relative to the U.S. registered sales after 1980.
What is the Takata airbag recall?
Takata’s airbag safety recall is the largest recall of 19 different automakers on vehicles that have been recalled to replace the driver’s side, passenger’s side, or both sides frontal airbags. NHTSA called it “the largest and most complex safety recall in Unites States history.” Airbags from major supplier Takata were mainly installed in models from 2002 to 2015. Prolonged exposure to heat and humidity can cause these airbags to explode when deployed. Such explosions have caused injuries and casualties. This is an emergency safety recall and repair is free and easy.
Defective airbags have killed 17 people and injured more than 200 in the USA. A separate group of defective Takata airbags was also recalled in 2019 and 2020 that were not part of a much larger recall when the federal government mandated a nationwide recall of Takata airbags in November 2014.
How to check for safety recalls?
Checking for car recalls is much easier as compared to other vehicle history report searches as you don’t necessarily need information specific to an individual vehicle and you can check recalls for free. You can perform recall searches by VIN, license plate, or even just the make and model of the car.
1) Check recalls by VIN
You can look up recalls by VIN. Simply enter your 17-digit VIN number into the recall search tool to check public safety recalls. You can find the VIN number on the inside of the dashboard on the driver’s side (viewable through the windshield). You can also find it under the hood on the front of the engine block in gasoline cars. It can also be found on the driver’s side door pillar. On older cars, the VIN can be seen above the front end of the frame, above the wheels. If you can’t find the VIN number on your vehicle, you should be able to find it on the vehicle’s various paperwork which includes the vehicle’s title, insurance card, or vehicle’s registration card. NHTSA is the most reliable source of recall information.
2) Check recalls by license plate
If you do not have a VIN due to any reason, you can also lookup recalls by the license plate. You need to enter the state name and a license plate number into the recall lookup tool to check vehicle recall.
Some searches may return multiple or incorrect records. This usually indicates that a vehicle changes ownership multiple times or the owner has transferred their license plate from vehicle to vehicle. So in this case it is more suitable to check recalls by make, model.
3) Car recall check by make, model, and year
Searching by make, model and year may still result in a recall if you don’t have the VIN or license plate number of an individual vehicle. Being able to include a specific trim level can help narrow the search, as recall may apply to some trim levels of the model but not others.
There is a recall on my car, what next?
If your car has a public safety recall, the automaker must address the safety-related issue by repairing the vehicle, replacing the vehicle, offering a refund, or in some cases buying the vehicle back.
Under the safety recall outline, automakers must notify owners about the problem within 60 days. There is still public recall for a vehicle if the owner is unable to repair it within a time. However, when a vehicle changes ownership multiple times, manufacturers find it more difficult to contact the current owner. Even if your manufacturer did not notify you, you are still eligible for remedies for recalled vehicles. If you discover that your vehicle has an active recall, follow any interim safety guidance provided by the manufacturer and contact your local dealership or manufacturer to arrange a free remedy.
What’s next if a dealer charge for a recall repair?
Federal law requires free recall repairs for cars up to 15 years old (the date it was sold to the first owner, not the year it was manufactured). Even beyond 15 years, it’s not uncommon for dealers to recall voluntary repairs. it’s not in favor of an auto manufacturer’s image to charge customers for mistakes they didn’t make.
If the dealer refuses to repair your vehicle under the recall letter, you should notify the manufacturer immediately. You can also file a complaint with NHTSA providing as many details as possible, including the name of the dealer and the person involved.
How to check if auto-recall has been fixed?
If you have a repair record for the vehicle, the repair should be listed by the dealer who performed the repair. If not, please contact an authorized dealer and provide them with a VIN number. Their records can show whether the recall was resolved. Otherwise, take your vehicle to an authorized dealer for inspection.