Car manufacturers voluntarily initiate most recalls, with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) influencing or ordering the balance. Owners may learn of a recall through a news source or when they receive a safety recall notice in the mail. Ignoring such personal directives can prove dangerous if you consider what may happen when a recall repair isn’t accomplished.
Defects Leading to Safety Recall Notices
The most well-known recall currently in the news involves airbags, specifically those made by Takata, a leading supplier of airbags for 14 automotive manufacturers. What’s at stake here is airbag inflators installed in more than 100 million vehicles, specifically metal cartridges packed with propellant wafers. Instead of simply deploying the airbag as a result of an accident, the inflators have been known to explode, sending shrapnel into the cabin, injuring or killing passengers.
In 2009, a government investigation of Toyota revealed the automaker defrauded their customers with misleading statements about issues regarding safety in Toyota and Lexus vehicles. That issue centered on the unintended acceleration of some models, a defect that led to the death of several individuals. Since then, Toyota has followed through on the safety recalls, fixing millions of affected vehicles. The recall has also been expanded to many other automakers who used Takata airbags. However, some vehicle owners still haven’t responded, missing out on free repairs while continuing to drive problem vehicles. If you don’t respond to a recall within eight years of the sale date of the vehicle, then the repairs become your responsibility.
Fuel, Cooling and Wiring Systems
Under the hood problems can involve any number of issues. Recent recalls include faulty fuel system components susceptible to crash damage, possibly leading to fires. In some cars, engine cooling fan blades have been known to break unexpectedly, injuring people working on a vehicle. Also, some wiring systems have proven faulty, suddenly extinguishing headlights while on the road or causing a fire.
Not all recalls are directly related to models built by vehicle manufacturers. Indeed, the NHTSA has also issued alerts on the products you use in and with your vehicle, including child car seats. The government maintains a database for child seat recalls extending back 10 years. These recalls include 3.7 million Graco car seats recalled in 2014 due to a release button that may become stuck. In an emergency situation, parents could find that the child cannot be freed, putting everyone in grave danger.
Following Through on Recalls
If you receive a safety recall notice from the manufacturer, you’ll be instructed on how to take action. Typically, this involves contacting a local dealer and making an appointment to have your car serviced.
Vehicle repair costs under a safety recall are covered by the manufacturer who reimburses the dealer for each completed job. Your dealer will let you know when the replacement part is available and schedule your appointment. The service department will also verify that all other recalls have been completed. If not additional repairs may be done on the spot or scheduled for completion.
Check out all the maintenance parts available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on your safety recall notice, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Matt Keegan has maintained his love for cars ever since his father taught him kicking tires can be one way to uncover a problem with a vehicle’s suspension system. He since moved on to learn a few things about coefficient of drag, G-forces, toe-heel shifting, and how to work the crazy infotainment system in some random weekly driver. Matt is a member of the Washington Automotive Press Association and is a contributor to various print and online media sources.