Auto manufacturers try to stay on top of notifying vehicle owners of recalls when they become necessary. Sometimes the vehicle owner might sense something is wrong with their car before the notice is even sent out. When this happens, you can check to see whether any issues have been identified before you experience a serious problem.
Before you continue driving with a mysterious vehicle defect and risk getting into a car accident, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)’s website to see if any recalls are listed. All you need is your vehicle’s make, model and VIN (vehicle identification number). Your VIN is a 17-number identification code specific to your vehicle.
Places you can typically find your VIN include:
- The lower left side of your windshield on a tiny plate or sticker
- On your registration card
- On your car insurance card
My vehicle has officially been recalled. What do I do?
Once a recall has been issued on your vehicle, you can initiate certain steps to have it taken care of once the process has reached the point that the manufacturer has put a remedy in place. Do not allow fear of repair costs delay beginning the process of resolving the recall issue. As part of the manufacturer’s responsibility to provide a safe product, your vehicle should be fixed at no cost to you. It’s simply in the manufacturer’s best interest to make the repair rather than risk their vehicle injuring you or someone else and incurring the cost of a lawsuit.
To initiate your recall:
- Contact your local authorized dealership. You’ll need to make an appointment to have your vehicle worked on. Ask how long the repair should take so that you can plan accordingly, especially if it’s your only mode of transportation. Dealerships know which parts they’ll need for each recall and often will have those parts already on hand so that simple recall issues can be taken care of the same day.
- Discuss alternate transportation. If the defect is more serious, it could take several days or longer to address the issue that prompted the recall. If that’s the case, you can talk with the service department when you make your repair appointment about providing you with a loaner vehicle or rental car at their expense.
- Save all recall information. Create a file to keep all of your recall notices and repair information handy. If the same part malfunctions at a later date and is determined to be the root cause of an injury to you or someone else, it will help you to have everything in one place to provide to a product liability attorney who can conduct an investigation and determine each entity or individual at fault.
Do I have a say over how the recall is resolved?
Vehicle manufacturers who issue recalls have total discretion over the remedy they offer. There are three standard options typically made available based upon the severity of the problem. You could receive a parts repair, refund, or vehicle replacement.
- Repair: When a defect is minor or the cost benefit outweighs other options, the auto maker can easily justify a repair. You may feel like you deserve to start from scratch with a new vehicle, but that option is rarely offered.
- Refund: When the issue with your vehicle is so severe that the manufacturer isn’t comfortable with the risk level of a repair to address the problem, you may receive a refund of your purchase price less a reasonable sum for depreciation. This may also be the solution when the cost to repair the issue will exceed the value of the vehicle. Refunds might also be issued for equipment you had repaired prior to the auto maker learning that those parts have become a problem and issued a recall.
- Replacement: In rare instances, a manufacturer may feel the safety issues with your vehicle are too prohibitive for a parts replacement to resolve and will opt to replace your vehicle. A reasonable replacement will be chosen for you.
Even if you’ve had to endure a vehicle recall and it has been resolved to your satisfaction, you are still entitled to file a lawsuit if you have experienced a personal injury as a result of the vehicle defect. To see how our qualified Atlanta and Savannah auto defect attorneys at Harris Lowry Manton LLP can help you pursue a civil claim for medical bills, lost wages and more, call us today.
Schedule your free case evaluation with a caring member of our legal team by calling our Atlanta office at 404-998-8847, our Savannah office at 912-417-3774, or we invite you to reach out to us through our contact page.
One of the nation’s top trial attorneys, Jeff Harris is an award-winning litigator who handles high-profile, complex cases across a wide variety of practice areas. He excels at securing justice for clients who have been seriously injured or killed, holding responsible parties accountable for their actions as well as their negligence.
Read more about Jeffrey R. Harris here.