How to Check Safety Recalls for Your Car, Truck, or SUV

Automobile assembly lines have come a long way since the early days of manufacturing. Human hands and everyday tools have largely been replaced by state-of-the-art robots and everchanging technologies. These meteoric advances should erase automobile defects, right? Not exactly. 

While precision-engineering does provide its share of benefits to manufacturers and consumers, several automobile safety recalls hit the newswire year after year, some of which are shockingly large, such as the Takata airbag recalls, or the recent Kia engine fire risk recall.

And whether the defect is the result of either a manufacturer or distributor error, the end-result means a vehicle’s safety and roadworthiness has been compromised, ultimately risking the lives of its driver and passengers.

Sadly, despite federal regulations and the reportedly high standards of manufacturers, there continue to be instances of automakers gambling with consumer safety in an attempt to save money.

No matter how proficient the robot or technology, unforeseen consequences, glitches, and mistakes continue to place defective automobiles on our highways and interstates.

Having helped a number of clients who were injured due to automobile defects, Boulton Law Group recommends that everyone routinely check the safety recall status of their vehicle with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

How to Find the Recall Status of Your Vehicle

Checking the recall status of your vehicle is absolutely free and can be completed in mere seconds.

The first step is to locate your automobile’s Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). There are a number of places where you might find your VIN:

  • A sticker located on the inside section of the driver’s side door.
  • The lower left-hand side of your automobile’s windshield.
  • Your vehicle registration card/paperwork.
  • Your vehicle’s insurance card.

Once you have located the 17-digit number, you will simply input it into the NHTSA recall tool and click on the magnifying glass. It really is that easy!

Impressively, the NHTSA tool catalogs a fairly extensive database of automobile safety recalls. It will provide you with the status of any recall attached to your vehicle that has been issued within the past 15 years.

Though the NHTSA recall tool is a great source, it must be noted that it is not the only source of recalls. Also, the most recent recalls may not immediately appear on the site, as it has not had time to identify all the applicable VINs.

For that reason, you should check back regularly to determine whether or not your vehicle is subject to a safety recall.

Will Your Automobile Manufacturer Contact You About a Recall?

Auto manufacturers and distributors stand to lose hundreds of millions with regard to defects, so it is safe to say they do not issue safety recall notices out of kindness. In fact, they are mandated by law to issue a recall notice once a potential problem has been identified and/or a defect has caused injury or loss of life. Failure to issue such notices can result in even bigger problems for the automaker.

And while many safety recalls are issued over concern for consumer safety related to vehicle crashes, fires, etc., there are also instances of large auto manufacturers being held responsible for less obvious dangers, such as the famed Volkswagen emissions recall. In this case, Volkswagen knowingly cheated in an attempt to circumvent the air pollution standards set forth by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

In addition to automakers and distributors being required to notify the public about safety recalls, government agencies will routinely become involved, such as the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and/or the previously mentioned NHTSA.

If a defect has been identified and associated with your model year and make of automobile, you should receive either a letter or email from the manufacturer that outlines the potential danger. (This notice may also come from the car dealership where you purchased the automobile.)

Typically notices will provide direction and answer questions on a range of topics, such as:

  • Explanation of the concern or defect.
  • Steps the manufacturer or dealership will take to correct the problem.
  • Your next steps – What you should or should not do, e.g., stop driving the vehicle immediately.
  • How long the repair will take.
  • Provide contact information and further instructions for consumer questions/concerns.

Additionally, depending on the nature of the recall, if it is believed that the defect is especially dangerous, the manufacturer and/or dealership may recommend you allow them to pay for the vehicle to be towed to the nearest repair shop.

In the event that you receive a recall notice but no longer own the vehicle, the manufacturer may ask that you provide them with any information you have on the existing owner.

Did You Purchase a Used Vehicle that is Under Recall?

The rules for vehicle recalls are a bit different for owners of used automobiles. In fact, if you did not buy a brand new vehicle from an authorized dealer, it is possible that you will not receive any type of notification, by mail or otherwise.

Though it seems unfair when dealing with an especially dangerous defect, automobile manufacturers and distributors of parts and products are not legally required to seek you out if you bought your vehicle secondhand.

However, manufacturers are obligated to provide used-car owners with the same level of service and repair with regard to any defects or safety concerns.

For that reason, because you may not receive direct notice of your vehicle’s recall, it is especially important for owners of used automobiles to conduct regular checks using the NHTSA’s recall tool we mentioned near the beginning of this blog.

Questions About Injuries Related to a Vehicle Recall?

Due to the wide-ranging list of problems covered in various vehicle recalls, the potential for serious injury is a legitimate concern for the owner of any defective automobile.

As such, if your or a loved one’s injuries were the result of a vehicle defect, you may have the right to seek significant compensation from the automobile manufacturer.

However, these cases are often quite complex and will be vigorously defended by the manufacturer’s legal team. For this reason, it is important that you contact an experienced personal injury attorney for a free evaluation of your potential claim.

Attorney Matt Boulton offers victims of defective vehicles a Zero Fee Guarantee. This promise means that you will never pay for a legal consultation, and the only time our firm receives payment for its services is if we win your case.

To speak with Matt about your potential case, contact him direct at 317-350-2680. If you feel more comfortable writing to us with your story, please use our confidential contact form. Matt personally reviews every contact received at our firm.

How Can We Help You?

Contact attorney Boulton for a 100% free case review. No matter the size or type of case, our clients never pay a fee until after we win their case.
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