Vehicle Recall Tips
As regulators continue to crack down on safety defects on automobiles, the number of recalls continues to rise. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 51.2 million vehicles were recalled in 2015, an all time high for the second year in a row. BBB reminds consumers that recall letters are sent when a car is considered unsafe and encourages consumers to have the vehicle repaired as soon as the part(s) are available.
“It is very likely that you will receive a recall notice at some point in the lifetime of your vehicle”, said Mechele Agbayani Mills, President and CEO of BBB Serving Central East Texas. “If and when it happens, repairs should be attended to with great care and urgency.”
BBB recommends the following to make sure you are well prepared should your vehicle encounter a recall issue.
- Get it fixed. Approximately 25% of all notices go ignored, as owners simply do not take the time to get the work done. Recalls do not mean every affected vehicle will have a problem, however, as the old adage goes, better safe than sorry.
- Keep your receipts. If you happen to have your vehicle repaired before the official recall was announced, you might be eligible for reimbursement by the manufacturer.
- Be aggressive. Recalls are reported by the news media, but it may take a month or more for car companies to mail out letters to owners and to send parts and instructions to dealers. If your car shows signs of the problem, don’t wait for the recall letter. Call your dealer and have the problem checked. At the very least, place yourself at the top of the waiting list.
- Check for recalls. Manufacturers are required to notify, by first-class mail, all registered owners and purchasers of the affected vehicles of the existence of the problem. Names and addresses of vehicle owners are obtained from the state’s department of motor vehicles, so it is important to keep your vehicle registration up to date. If you’ve moved a lot or have a used car, you may be difficult to find. Go to www.safercar.gov to search the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) database for recalls. Click on vehicle recalls and plug in the year and model of your car. If you find a recall, call your dealer or the automaker’s customer service line and ask if it was repaired by providing them with the vehicle identification (VIN) number.
- Stay connected. If you go to safercar.gov, you can sign up for email alerts on the agency’s website. If your car does have a recall issue, the NHTSA will contact you via email.
- Other repairs. Things often go wrong with cars that aren’t big enough to cause a recall. Automakers issue “technical service bulletins” to dealers telling them to fix cars when they come in for other repairs. It’s difficult for a consumer to check for the bulletins, but some information is on websites set up by car enthusiasts.
For more tips on how to be a savvy consumer, go to bbb.org. To report fraudulent activity or unscrupulous business practices, call the BBB Hotline: (903) 581-8373 or go to BBB Scam Tracker.