What is a recall on a car?
A recall is issued when a manufacturer or NHTSA determines that a vehicle, equipment, car seat, or tire creates an unreasonable safety risk or fails to meet minimum safety standards. Manufacturers are required to fix the problem by repairing it, replacing it, offering a refund, or (in rare cases) repurchasing the vehicle.
Some drivers worry, “What if I never received the notice in the first place?” There are steps you can take to help ensure you receive the notice when it is issued.
For starters, register your new or used car with the manufacturer, so they can promptly alert you when a recall is issued. The NHTSA’s rules state manufacturers must send you a notice by mail, so be sure to notify the manufacturer of any change to your address.
If you have reason to believe that your car has been recalled, but you’ve yet to receive notice, call the manufacturer or a local authorized dealer for an update. If you discover a safety defect with your vehicle that has not been acknowledged by the automaker, you can notify NHTSA and file a complaint. If enough drivers file a similar complaint, the NHTSA may follow up with an investigation and issue its own recall.
NHTSA recommends searching its database for safety issues and recalls a couple of times each year to see if your car has been flagged. You’ll need to input your 17-character Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), which is located on your car’s registration card and can also be found on the lower-left section of your car’s windshield. The database will indicate if your vehicle was recalled in the past 15 years and never repaired, as well as current vehicle safety recalls from most major auto, motorcycle, and truck manufacturers. You can also sign up for NHTSA’s car recalls email notification system.
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