7 Questions About Car Recalls Everyone Has

car recall questions
We’ve all been there. You go to open your mailbox expecting to see the usual junk mail and bills. Instead, you find an envelope with the bright red “RECALL NOTICE” printed on the front.
Did you know that nearly 28 million cars were recalled in 2017? Recalls affected well-known, trusted car brands with Fiat Chrysler, Honda, Ford, Hyundai, and BMW at the top of the list. Car recalls are an issue for everyone at some point in their lives and yet most of us don’t know how to deal with them!
If you’ve never dealt with a car recall before, when you get that notice in the mail you’re confused and frustrated. Not only do you not have the time to worry about it with your busy schedule, but you also don’t know what you are supposed to do with your car.
Why does my car have a recall? Where do I take my car to get it fixed? How long will it take? Does this mean I need to get a rental car? We are here to answer all those questions for you. We will make a frustrating situation easier than you thought it ever could be.

7 Important Questions About Car Recalls

1. What Is A Car Recall?

Before we get into what you need to do with your car when it has a recall, let’s first cover what a recall is. You’ll need to know what’s going on to have it properly taken care of.
When your car has a recall it means that the car manufacturer or the NHTSA has determined that some part of the vehicle creates an unreasonable safety risk or fails to meet minimum safety standards. The recall can be related to the car’s design, certain car parts, or even a software issue.
Sometimes these safety concerns are mild and only take a quick adjustment and sometimes they are serious safety concerns. Either way, if the manufacturer or NHTSA detects that there is an issue the poses a safety concern on any level, a recall will be issued.

2. How Do You Find Out If Your Vehicle Has a Recall?

Typically when your vehicle has a recall you will be notified by mail. It’ll be a letter describing the nature of the recall. It will include information on the risk is poses, warning signs to look for, how the manufacturer will fix it, and instructions on what you need to do. If the recall is serious you may even receive a phone call.
If for some reason you do not receive a recall notice, the manufacturer is still obligated to fix the problem.
There is also a way to manually check to see if your car has a current recall or has had any in the past. You can enter your car’s VIN number in the NHTSA’s recall search tool. It’ll give you information on recalls that are incomplete and recalls made over the past 15 years.
You can find your VIN number on the lower left corner of your car’s windshield. It will also be on your insurance card and registration. And don’t worry, your VIN number will be kept private when you search it on NHTSA’s search tool.

3. What Do I Do If My Car Has Been Recalled?

Usually when a recall is issued the manufacturer gives you instructions on what to do. It almost always involves taking your car in to your local dealer to have them repair it.
When you receive your letter in the mail, call your local auto dealer to set up an appointment to take your car in.

4. How Long Will It Take To Get The Recall Repaired?

It depends on what the recall is on. Something such as a software update may only take a few minutes but a recall on brakes can usually take a few hours. You may even have instances where repairs take a few days.
However, the good thing about recalls in that they usually give you a rental car for free if your recall repairs are expected to take a long time.

5. Do I Have To Pay To Have The Recall Repaired?

No, it will not cost you anything to have your car’s recall repaired. Manufacturers are required to repair recalls for free and if someone tries to charge you, contact the manufacturer or report it to the NHTSA.
However, there is an exception with tires. If you have a recall on your tires you have to bring it in within 5 years of the notice to have it repaired for free.

6. How Long Does It Take To Get A Recall Fixed?

It’s important to take your car in as soon as possible. Even though a recall does not necessarily mean you are in immediate danger it’s best not to risk it.
There is no deadline for when you have to take your vehicle in for repairs. The recall is effective for the life of your car. However, if you have a recall on your tires you are required to take it in for repairs within 180 days of receiving the letter.

7. What Does My Recall Status Mean?

If you look up your vehicle’s VIN number on the NHTSA website you may see 1 of 3 different recall status types. Here’s what you need to know about each one according to Safecar.gov:
  • Recall INCOMPLETE – This means that an incomplete or “open” recall was found on your car and you should follow the remedy instructions.
  • Recall INCOMPLETE. Remedy Not Yet Available – This means that an incomplete or “open” recall was found on your car, but the manufacturer is not yet ready to provide the needed remedy or fix.
  • Number of Open Recalls: 0 – This means that either you have no recalls associated with your car or your car has already been fixed.

How To Handle A Car Recall

Usually when people hear the word “recall” they panic and expect a headache. It’s a misconception that dealing with auto recalls are challenging. Sure there are cases where the opposite is true, but for the most part it’ll be a breeze if you know how to handle it.
Remember that when your car has a recall it won’t cost you anything but your time. It’s a small price to pay to make sure your safety is taken care of.
If you have any other questions concerning your car’s recall your manufacturer is usually a good resource to ask. They know the in’s and out’s of the process and can answer questions about the part of your car being recalled.
Wondering what cars had the most recalls last year? Check out our recent blog on 2018 car recalls to see if your car is on the list. And don’t fret if it is… you know how to handle it now.


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