What does it mean when a manufacturer initiates a safety recall involving vehicles?

A safety recall involving vehicles can be independently conducted by a manufacturer or other agency. In either case, the manufacturer must file a public report describing the safety-related defect involved vehicle/equipment population, the major events that resulted in the recall determination, a description of the remedy, and a schedule for the recall. Manufacturers are obligated to attempt to notify owners of recalled products. For vehicles, that means manufacturers merge their own records of vehicle owners with current situation vehicle registration information.  However, even if you do not receive a notification, if your vehicles are involved in a safety recall, the manufacturer is obligated to provide a free remedy.

In most cases, dealers perform safety-related recall repairs promptly and correctly. However, from time to time, problems do occur. We can categorize these problems broadly as an inability to have the recall work done or to have it done without charge.

When you receive a notification from the manufacturer of your vehicle notifying you that your car has been recalled, you should contact your dealer’s service department to arrange for the recall repair. If you then have problems in obtaining the free recall repair, it is usually quicker to attempt to resolve the problem using Steps 1 or 2.

Step 1: Contact the dealer service manager

The first step is to contact the dealer service manager. You should explain the situation to the manager, identifying the work required as part of a safety recall. If you have the manufacturer’s notification letter on the safety recall, it will help explain your concern.

In most cases, this will resolve any problems. However, if you do not feel the service manager has answered your concerns completely, then you should contact the manufacturer, Step 2.

Step 2: Contact the Manufacturer

To contact the manufacturer, it could be a longer process compared to  step 1 and phone number or email can be found on the vehicle owner’s manual. Once again, you must describe the problem you are having and usually the following information:

  • The make, model, and model year of your vehicle and the vehicle identification number (VIN);
  • Briefly describe the recall and the problem you are having;
  • Identify your dealer and what steps you have taken with the dealer to resolve the matter.

The manufacturer will look into the matter and should be able to resolve your concern within a few days.




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