Did you receive a notice in the mail informing you of a recall on your vehicle? The large red letters on the notice can be alarming. You might even wonder if your car is safe to drive.
On the other hand, you need your vehicle, and taking it to the dealership for repairs might leave you temporarily without a car. Find out more about how recalls work and whether or not you need to repair your car if you receive a recall notice.
How do Recalls Work?
Car manufacturers have to meet certain safety standards when designing and manufacturing vehicles. This includes every part of the vehicle, as well as the tires. Recalls happen when a car manufacturer or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) finds safety-related defects in a number of vehicles.
Most recalls are for specific parts that are found to be defective. For example, you might get a recall for a specific hose in your engine’s cooling system or a spring that affects the seatbelt. If a manufacturer or the NHTSA finds an issue, they’ll alert car owners of the problem.
Car manufacturers provide repairs free of charge to fix components related to the recall. Remember, however, that since recalls are for specific parts, only those parts receive repairs. The manufacturer won’t completely replace your vehicle.
What Happens if My Vehicle Gets a Recall?
If a problem is found in your car, you’ll get a letter in the mail letting you know about the recall. The letter is sent to the last address on the vehicle registration, so it’s vital to update your vehicle registration when you move. This ensures you’ll receive important recall notices if any problems are found in your make and model.
Even if you don’t receive a recall notice, your car manufacturer is still obligated to fix open recalls on your car. You can ask your local dealership to run your Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) through their system to check for any current open recalls. You can also use your car’s VIN and the recall lookup feature from the NHTSA to search for recalls on your own.
How Do I Fix Recalls on My Car?
Your recall letter should have all the information you need to better understand the recall. The letter often gives you an explanation of which parts are potentially defective and how faulty parts can put you at risk. You’ll probably also see a list of warning signs to watch for as you drive your vehicle.
Be sure to check the letter for important temporary safety guidelines. These guidelines let you know if your car is safe to drive while you wait for your repair appointment. If you’re unsure if you should be driving the vehicle, call the manufacturer and ask if it’s safe to drive with the open recall. When in doubt, park the car and don’t drive it until you take it in for repairs.
You don’t have to have repairs done at the original dealership of the car. You can take your car to your local authorized dealership for repairs, even if you’ve moved or bought the car used. The recall letter should direct you to the nearest dealership and give instructions on how to set up an appointment.
Most of the time, you can call the dealership and let them know there’s a recall on your vehicle. They’ll help you choose a time and date for repairs. How long your recall repairs take depends on several factors. A larger recall that affects many cars, for example, may mean you have to wait several weeks for an open appointment time.
The actual repair time also varies on the severity of the problem. A complicated issue involving several engine parts will likely take longer to repair than a simple issue with one part that’s easy to access. Your dealership may also need to order parts, which could take a few days to arrive. You can ask the dealership when you set up your repair appointment for an estimated repair timeline.
Do I Really Need to Fix Open Recalls?
Most recalls don’t involve immediate danger, so you shouldn’t panic if you get a notice in the mail. However, even if the car is relatively safe to drive with an open recall, you should make an appointment to fix it as soon as possible. You increase your risk of major car damage or injury the longer you drive with defective parts.
Does a Recall Change my Car Insurance?
The good news about vehicle recalls is they shouldn’t affect your car insurance. Recalls are almost always the responsibility of the car manufacturer, not you or your insurance company. That means your auto manufacturer covers the cost of repairs to remedy the defective or unsafe parts. You don’t need to file an insurance claim and your rates and policy should stay the same.