Depending on the outcome of investigations, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) will tell automakers they need to conduct a recall if a safety-related defect exists.
A recall is basically a free repair for a widespread safety defect or an issue that doesn’t meet federal safety standards in a specific set of vehicles.
The recall can be initiated by the manufacturer directly, or in some cases – and sometimes forcibly – by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) .
With more recalls than ever before, it’s hard to keep up with it all. After announcing up to 30% of people ignore safety recalls, NHTSA created an easy, online VIN lookup tool ti quickly check your car’s recall status.
Don’t have your VIN handy? You can also look it up by year, make, and model.
CarComplaints.com also offers a free email alert system that will notify you of a potential problem, sometimes much sooner than a manufacturer can send out an official notice.
Watch for recall notices in the mail and always make sure the manufacturer has your up-to-date mailing address.
Once you receive word of a recall, don’t ignore it. Don’t expect an immediate appointment for a repair. And don’t give up.
A 2016 study determined that 45 million cars recalled between 2013 and 2015 hadn’t received their repairs.
While recalls don’t expire, they do have a limited shelf-life if you want a guaranteed no-cost fix.
The answer, like many things in life – it depends.
The process isn’t always simple and often requires a good paper trail on your end. That’s why it’s important to save or scan all documents related to car repairs.
“According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, automakers are required to reimburse you based on either the date the government opens an engineering analysis of the problem, or one year prior to the manufacturer’s notification of a defect to the government, whichever comes first.”