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Guide to NHTSA Vehicle Recalls: What to Do If Your Car Has a Recall

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Got questions about your car’s recalls? We’ve got answers. 

For specific information regarding recall maintenance or safety campaigns, please contact your manufacturer or the NHTSA. 

Need to check for recalls on your vehicle? Use the VINvaquero.com recall search, and find out what to do if you car has a recall here. 

What is a recall on a car?

A recall describes a situation in which a vehicle manufacturer or the NHTSA finds that a vehicle or its parts creates a safety risk or fails to meet safety standards. 

Recalls can be called by a manufacturer or the NHTSA following investigations of safety issues and consumer complaints. 

When a recall is issued, the manufacturer is required to fix the problem by either repairing the part, replacing it, offering a refund, or replacing/repurchasing the vehicle. 

If your vehicle is subject to a recall, you should get it serviced as soon as possible. Continuing to operate a vehicle with an active recall can result in a car accident, injuries, and death. 

How Vehicle Recalls Work

Vehicle recalls can be issued by a manufacturer or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). 

A recall is issued when it is determined that a vehicle or one of its parts has an issue that creates a safety risk or fails to meet minimum standards. 

Recalls can be issued for safety reasons, emissions reasons, or performance reasons. 

After a recall has been issued, the manufacturer is required to notify the owners of each vehicle included in the recall campaign. 

If the recall campaign has been initiated by the manufacturer, they are required to notify the NHTSA, and then notify affected owners within 60 days. 

You’ll typically receive a notice in the mail based on the latest owner information and registration details for your car. That’s why it’s always important to keep your address up to date. 

You can also check for open recalls yourself via your car’s VIN. 

Once a car is recalled, the manufacturer is responsible for coming up with a remedy for the issue. 

Your recall notice will include information about:

  • The details of the recall and the compontenet affected. 
  • The potential consequences of a malfunction. 
  • The immediate steps to take. 
  • Whether or not it is safe to drive your car. 
  • When the repairs will become available. 

Once the recall is ready to be serviced, you’ll need to take the vehicle to your local dealership to get it repaired.

The dealer is then required to fix the recall for free. If they refuse, you can contact the manufacturer or file a complaint through the NHTSA. 

How to check recalls on my car?

If there is an active recall issued for your vehicle, the manufacturer is required to attempt to notify the registered owners. 

Recall notices are sent in the mail, and will include information about the recall issue and what to do to fix the problem. 

Alternatively, you can use your VIN to search for any active and past recalls. 

You can check for recalls on your car here. 

What to do if your car has a recall?

When your vehicle receives a recall, you should follow the instructions on the recall notice or contact your local dealerships for next steps. 

You should take the vehicle to be fixed as soon as possible. 

Your dealer is required to replace or repair the recalled competent for free. 

How long is a vehicle recall good for?

Recalls remain open until the problem is fixed in a particular vehicle. 

In general, the recall will not expire, and the dealership should service the issue if it is not fixed already. 

However, the statute of limitations for free recall repairs typically lasts for up to 8 years after the original sale date of the vehicle.  

Even then, if your vehicle has an open recall that has not been serviced and your dealership refuses to fix it, you should contact the manufacturer directly. 

Additionally, recalls follow the car. Even if you’ve bought a used car and are not the original owner, you are still entitled to get the recall fixed. 

If you have purchased a used vehicle in a private sale, it can be a good idea to contact the manufacturer to be sure you’ll be notified for any future recall campaigns. 

How to find out if a recall has been done on my car?

You can find out if a recall repair has been performed on your car by checking its maintenance and service records. 

With your VIN, you should be able to determine if a recall service has been completed. 

Check your service records or contact your dealership/manufacturer to confirm that a recall has been repaired. 

Additionally, some vehicle history reports may include information about recall history. 

Do recalls cost money to repair?

Nope! Recalls are free to repair and will not cost you any money. 

When your vehicle has a recall, the manufacturer is required to repair or replace the part for free. 

Service can be completed at your local dealership. If your dealership refuses to remedy the issue, you should contact the manufacturer. 

If you’ve previously paid to repair a part that was then later recalled, you may be able to receive a refund for the repairs. 

How long do recalls take to fix?

Each recall is a little different depending on the severity of the problem and the number of vehicles affected. 

Usually, it takes a few weeks after receiving the initial recall notice for the dealership to be ready to make the repairs. 

After that, you’ll need to schedule time with your local dealership to get your car serviced. 

Depending on the nature of the repair and the volume of recalls in your area, the fix could take anywhere from a few hours to a few days to complete. 

In rare instances, the manufacturer may actually offer to buy back or replace your vehicle.