What to Do if Your Car or Truck Has Been Recalled

It seems that every day brings news of another major automobile manufacturer recalling vehicles because of potentially dangerous defects. The first quarter of 2010 saw a large recall of popular Toyota cars and trucks, Lexus cars, Honda vehicles and Nissan vehicles. Since motor vehicle recalls are becoming so common and affecting millions of Americans, it is important to know what to do if your car or truck is recalled.
Steps to Take if your Vehicle is Recalled
If your vehicle is recalled then it is important to:
·         Find Out About the Recall: many motor vehicle owners find out about recalls on the news or on the internet. It is important to follow up directly with the manufacturer if you hear that your vehicle is part of a recall. A manufacturer should provide written notice to all vehicle owners who can be located. If you do not get a notice, contact your local dealership for a copy of the notice.
·         Understand the Nature of the Recall: recalls happen for all kinds of reasons, ranging from the inconvenient to the potentially dangerous. For example, a recall may be issued on a car because the radio is not working properly or because of a significant acceleration or braking problem. 
·         Determine Whether the Vehicle is Safe to Drive, Pending Repairs: It is important to understand why your vehicle is being recalled and the potential safety consequences of continuing to drive the car without fixing the defect that is subject of the recall. Some cars may be safe to drive before getting fixed, but other cars will not be safe to drive.
·         Follow the Manufacturer’s Suggested Fix, if Any: The law requires a manufacturer to repair the defect, replace the vehicle, or refund the purchase price of the car minus the depreciation value. The vast majority of manufacturers decide to repair defects because it is the least expensive way to fix the problem. Most of the time you can take your car to a dealership for a free repair.
·         If the Dealer Won’t Fix it, Contact the Manufacturer: most dealers have contracts with the car manufacturers that require the dealers to complete recall repairs without charge to the customer. If your dealer refuses to fix your vehicle for free then you should contact the vehicle’s manufacturer to force the dealer to comply with the recall repair or to find the name of another convenient dealer who can help you.
·         If the Manufacturer Won’t Fix it, Contact the NHTSA: if both the dealer and the manufacturer refuse to fix your vehicle then you should contact the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) and file a complaint.
·         Contact an Attorney if There Have Been Injuries Caused by the Defect: you have the right to sue the car manufacturer for any injuries suffered as a result of the defect that prompted the recall.
A motor vehicle recall can be stressful for a vehicle owner. The driver of a recalled vehicle may be concerned about vehicle safety and about getting the necessary repairs. The steps described above may make the recall process less stressful, and less dangerous, for motor vehicle drivers and they are, therefore, important to follow.

The information on this page is meant to provide a general overview of the law. The laws in your state and/or city may deviate significantly from those described here. If you have specific questions related to your situation you should speak with a local attorney.

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