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The Importance of Checking for Vehicle Recalls

It’s often the case that we need to take matters into our own hands. We can’t always rely on the people who are meant to protect us. These words may sound like an extreme call for self-defense classes, but they’re actually about something far more mundane – checking to see if a vehicle has been recalled. Checking for a vehicle recall doesn’t sound like a big deal, but it is. Vehicles are recalled for serious reasons. To that end, driving a vehicle that has been recalled could lead to a serious injury or death.

Reasons to Check for a Recall

Recalled Cars Are Dangerous

A car manufacturer could have any number of mishaps when building new machines. Cars can have bad paint or malfunctioning air conditioners. Little things like this are always possible, but they don’t warrant a recall. Vehicle recalls are serious.

Recalls happen only when there is a safety issue. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s regulations state that a car needs to be recalled when it poses a “risk to motor vehicle safety.” Bad engines, faulty breaks, or malfunctioning steering wheels are cause for a recall. Sometimes there is an issue that is minor at first but may lead to something major. For example, a fluid could be leaking into the engine, which will eventually lead to a major malfunction. That would also lead to a recall.

Recalls can be so bad that they come with a “do not drive” warning. Drivers may be instructed to keep cars away from other machines in case of a fire, or they may be told to get the car out of a garage. Consumers need to stay on top of recalls for their safety.

Vehicles are sometimes recalled because, even though they don’t pose an immediate threat, they don’t meet safety standards. Bad rear-facing cameras or dim headlights may be the cause of a recall. Although these issues aren’t going to literally blow up in someone’s face, they still need to be taken seriously. If the video feed for the backup camera is delayed, someone could seriously get hurt.

Recall Notices Are Slow            

When a car is recalled, the information goes out pretty quickly. News agencies are informed, and car companies put information online. Then they put out the official, written notice, and that process is slow. It may take days or weeks after a news announcement for consumers to receive their written notice in the mail. People are busy living their lives, and it’s pretty easy to miss the hot news story about the recalled car that’s catching fire. Keeping up regularly with a car’s recall status is just good practice.

How Do Recalls Happen?

Since 1966, the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act has put vehicle recalls under the jurisdiction of the U.S. government. The NHTSA handles the business of recalling cars. Recalls apply to a group of vehicles made together with the same design or same manufacturer.

Fortunately, car companies are usually pretty good at self-regulating. They keep meticulous records and can pinpoint a problem. If they receive enough complaints from the public or from their dealers, they can track down exactly when the faulty piece was installed, in which specific factories, and precisely which cars were affected.

The NHTSA also keeps a close eye on complaints. If they see a pattern of consumer problems with a particular car, they investigate. They then reach out to the car company when they see an issue that needs to be fixed.

Car companies have a strong motivation to stay on top of recalls. They need to notify the NHTSA immediately when they find something worth recalling. When the NHTSA reaches out to them, they need to do a thorough investigation and be upfront about their results. Trying to get around the NHTSA is costly. There is a $22,000 fine for every single violation of an unreported problem or for lying about the severity of a problem. The cap for violations is $11,000,000.

How to Check for a Recall

It’s pretty easy to keep tabs on a vehicle and check for a recall. Looking inside a car from the outside, it’s easy to find the VIN number near the bottom of the windshield, driver’s side. Take this number and run it through a website that keeps tabs on recalls

Websites dedicated to keeping track of vehicle recalls:

These are two of the more popular sites, but there are plenty more.

Recall Repairs

Recall repairs are typically free. U.S. law demands that for 15 years after the car was originally sold, repair costs will not go to the consumer. Many manufacturers and dealers offer free safety repairs for cars even older than that. If a dealer tries to charge for a recall repair for a car 15 years old or less, call the manufacturer.

Used Cars

The 15-years-or-less rule applies to the date the car was sold to the original owner. This means that, yes, a used car may be recalled and need safety repairs. Treat any car the same. Whether the car is new or old, it’s good to regularly check on its status to see if it needs a repair.

Get into the Habit

Schedule time to check a vehicle just like any other regular safety checks. Add it to the list. When it’s time to check the smoke alarm, it’s time to check the car’s VIN for a recall. Luckily, with the information age, checking for a recall is easier to do now than ever before.

If you need representation for a vehicle malfunction, we can help. There is never any risk for a free consultation, so call today at 850-764-0383 or contact us online.

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