Here’s Why You Should Never Ignore Vehicle Safety Recalls

April 23, 2022
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Most car owners have received one or more postcard-sized mailings that notify us of a safety recall on our vehicle. Sometimes we forget to address them, while other times, we put them off until a more convenient time. But safety experts are urging vehicle owners never to ignore vehicle safety recalls, no matter how minor. You never know when one of these defects could result in a disaster on the road.

Millions of Vehicles Remain Unrepaired

A study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (N.H.T.S.A.) found that a shocking number of vehicle safety recalls are ignored every year. In 2015, 54 million vehicle safety recalls were issued across the country. More than 25% of these recalls were never addressed or repaired, leaving potentially 12 million defective vehicles on the road– and this is just one year of recalls!

Manufacturers issue vehicle safety recalls for several reasons. When defects or malfunctions pose a safety risk, the manufacturer is responsible for letting car owners know how and where they can take care of the problem. 

What Do Vehicle Safety Recalls Include?

Vehicle safety recalls can address any part not working correctly or a manufacturing error that does not meet federal safety standards. Recalls can affect braking systems, airbags, headlights, engines, etc. No part of a vehicle is immune to damage or malfunctioning errors. 
Safety defects often go undetected until an accident or tragedy occurs. In the case of the exploding Takata airbag recall, several people lost their lives and were injured before a safety recall was issued. Even minor safety effects can lead to other parts of a vehicle malfunctioning or a motor vehicle accident under the right conditions.

What to Do with Vehicle Safety Recall

Federal regulations require car manufacturers to issue vehicle safety recalls by first-class mail within 60 days when there is a safety risk of lack of compliance with vehicle safety standards. These recalls must include: 

  • Information on the affected make, model, and VIN number 
  • Description of the defect of the safety standard in question 
  • Reason for the decision to issue a recall 
  • How to fix the defect 
  • A recall schedule including the timeframe of when the vehicle can be fixed based on part availability 

Recall repairs are often free, and while they may take time out of your schedule, maintaining your vehicle can save lives.

Repair Your Vehicle

After receiving your safety recall notification, the first step is to schedule the repair. Follow the provided information on your recall notification for repair locations. While you can go to your local repair shop, you may be able to take advantage of the free repair and could be charged for the parts and labor.

Replacement Vehicle

There are certain occasions when a defect cannot be repaired, and a replacement vehicle will be required. Replacing your vehicle is the manufacturer's financial responsibility, not yours. In these instances, follow all manufacturer instructions for trading in your car.

Refund Vehicle

Suppose a driver does not want to replace the vehicle or has experienced multiple safety issues with the current car. In that case, a refund policy may be available for the owner's purchase price.

Notify New Owners

When you sell a car to someone else other than a dealership, notify the new owner of any recall notifications you receive. Contact the manufacturer to report a new owner to avoid future recall notices.

Don’t Assume Your Car is Safe

If you have never received a safety recall for your vehicle, don’t assume there have not been any. Mistakes with mail carriers and manufacturing mailing lists happen all the time. It’s possible that your vehicle could have a history of recalls that you are entirely unaware of. 
Ensure your vehicle is registered with the manufacturer to receive safety recall mailings. For more information on safety recalls, look up your vehicle using the Safety Issues & Recalls tool by N.H.T.S.A. to find all present and past recalls. 

Jacobs & Wallace Motor Vehicle Accident Attorneys

If you or someone you love has been injured in a motor vehicle accident, you need an experienced law firm to represent you. Jacobs & Wallace, PLLC, has decades of experience fighting for the rights of Connecticut’s injured victims. Please contact us today for a FREE case evaluation: 203-332-7700.


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