An engine in a car.

Vehicle Recalls: What You Should Know

If you own a car, then chances are you may have to deal with a vehicle recall at some point. Here’s what you need to know about them and what you should do if there’s one issued for your vehicle.

What Are Vehicle Recalls?

Every car make goes through months of rigorous testing before it goes on sale. Despite all of that, some things get missed and can eventually cause problems for owners months or even years after they buy their cars. There are laws in place, like the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, which protect you if you have problems with your car specifically.

Vehicle recalls are issued when a problem is found to affect not just one car, but multiple vehicles. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has the power to require an automaker to issue a recall for defects or if it’s determined a vehicle fails to meet federal safety standards. Often, an automaker will issue a recall on its own without the NHTSA forcing the issue. A man works on installing a new engine.

What Should You Do if You Receive a Vehicle Recall Notice?

You’ll receive your first notification of a vehicle recall in the mail. It might be tempting to throw the notification away, but that’s a bad idea. Automakers and the NHTSA don’t issue vehicle recalls on a whim. If you receive one for your car, then follow the instructions included.

This often involves a simple call to your local dealership to schedule an appointment to have the problem repaired. In rare cases, the recall notification may instruct you to stop driving your car.

Who Pays for the Repairs?

Don’t worry about coming up with the cash to make any necessary fixes. The automaker will cover the full cost of labor and repairing or replacing any parts. Whether it’s a simple part like an oil filter or something complex, you do not have to pay.

If you already made the fix before the recall was issued, then you may be entitled to a refund. This is why you should always hold onto any receipts from repairs you get done. The recall notification will also have the necessary information you’ll need to get your money back.

How Do I Find Out if There Are Outstanding Recalls on My Car?

Recall notices are sent in the mail, but if you move, then you might not receive them. Don’t worry. You can check your vehicle for recalls at any time through the NHTSA recall database. All you need is the vehicle identification number.

If you find that your car has an open recall, don’t delay getting it repaired. Recalls are issued to keep you safe and should be completed as soon as possible.

Check out all the safety products available on NAPA online or trust one of our 16,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information about vehicle recalls, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.

Photo courtesy of Flickr.

about author

Nicole Wakelin

Nicole Wakelin covers the automotive industry as a freelance journalist for a variety of outlets. Her work includes news pieces, podcasts, radio, written reviews, and video reviews. She can be found in The Boston Globe, CarGurus, BestRide, US News and World Report, and AAA along with lifestyle blogs like Be Car Chic, The Other PTA, and She Buys Cars. She is active on social media with a large following on both Twitter and Instagram and currently serves as Vice President of the New England Motor Press Association.

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