Does My Car Have Any Recalls?

Vehicle recalls are a huge concern today because of the catastrophic injuries and deaths that have resulted from defective motor vehicles and auto parts.

The Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) regulates the safety of vehicles. NHTSA is the governing body which regulated auto recalls when a vehicle or a part does not meet the legal requirements for safety. Since The National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act was enacted in 1966, more than 390 million cars, trucks, buses, recreational vehicles, motorcycles, and mopeds have been recalled to correct safety defects.

If a car manufacturer finds a problem with the vehicle that could be a safety hazard, they are required to notify owners by mail within 60 days of notifying NHTSA of a recall decision. Whether NHTSA or the car company itself issues the recall, NHTSA will oversee the recall and ensure the manufacturer complies with the law.

Our vehicles are important to us, but the health and safety of our loved ones and ourselves are more valuable than any car will ever be. Find out how to know if your vehicle is part of a safety recall and what you can do to do to correct it.

When is a recall necessary?

A recall is issued when it has been determined that a vehicle, equipment, car seat, or tire creates an unreasonable safety risk failing to meet the minimum safety standards.

A safety defect is defined as a problem existing in a motor vehicle or item of motor vehicle equipment which:

  • poses a risk to motor vehicle safety, and
  • may exist in a number of vehicles of the same design or manufacture, or items of equipment of the same type and manufacture.

Common vehicle defects that lead to recalls

  • Airbags that do not deploy
  • Airbags that deploy when they shouldn’t
  • Airbags that deploy with too much or too little force
  • Faulty ignition switch
  • Accelerator controls that may break or stick
  • Seatbelts that don’t stay fastened during a collision
  • Roofs that collapse during a rollover collision
  • Faulty electric systems which cause fires
  • Seats or seat backs that fail unexpectedly during normal use
  • Brake failure
  • Power steering failure
  • Tire explosion

How will I know if there is a recall?

If a recall arises, by law, car manufacturers are required to inform car owners directly. It is important that you do your part in making sure your vehicle registration is up to date with your current mailing address. The recall notification will be mailed out with a detailed explanation of what caused the defect along with instructions on how to resolve the issue. If the car owner needs more information regarding the recall, there will be contact information included in the notification.

If you are aware of a recall on your vehicle but have not received a notification directly from the car manufacturer, contact NHTSA and advise them so they can make sure the car manufacturer is following the law.

Vehicle owner’s responsibility during a recall

When a recall comes about, it is the car manufacturer’s responsibility to repair the issue without cost to the vehicle owner. Instructions on how a vehicle owner should seek repairs will be included in the recall notification. When it comes to repairs, vehicle owners should be aware of the following:

  • It is the vehicle owner’s responsibility to fix the vehicle at their own cost if the vehicle is over ten years old.
  • If NHTSA and the car manufacturer disagree on a recall, the manufacturer has no obligation to repair the issue during the time they are in court.
  • A car owner will be entitled to a refund for the cost of repairs if the car owner has repaired the issue before the recall.
  • Recalls are to be repaired within a required period of time and are typically repaired by mechanics at the car dealership. The car owner should contact the manufacturer if the car dealership is refusing to fix the vehicle within that time period. The vehicle owner cannot take legal action during this time.

Is my vehicle under recall?

You can search to find out if your vehicle has any recalls by entering your vehicle identification number (VIN) at Your VIN is 17 digits and is located on the lower left of your car’s windshield, on your car’s registration card, and on your insurance card.

Life can be hectic, and we may forget to check for recent recalls, which is why an app can be a big help to ensure our vehicles are safe. You can sign up to receive e-mail recall notifications affecting your make and model from NHTSA or download the Safecar mobile application for iPhones or Safecar mobile application for Androids to receive recall alerts.

Can I report a safety problem?

If you suspect your vehicle may have a defect putting your safety at risk, take the important step of reporting it to the NHTSA to get the situation remedied to ensure your safety. An investigation is warranted if the agency receives reports regarding the same product that could indicate a safety-related defect may exist. You have three options to file such complaints:

Vehicle Safety Hotline. You may call 1-888-327-4236 toll free to register complaints or to receive recall information about a vehicle. If you prefer to file a safety complaint online, you may visit to help facilitate the recall process.

U.S. Mail. You may also report a safety complaint by mailing a letter to:

U.S. Department of Transportation

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Office of Defects Investigation (NVS-210)

1200 New Jersey Avenue SE

Washington, DC 20590

If you find out your vehicle is under a safety recall, or you suspect a safety defect do not ignore it! Protect yourself and your loved ones from being involved in a crash that is caused by a vehicle defect.

How The Carlson Law Firm can help

Product liability cases are often complex cases, and take a highly experienced attorney to determine liability and aggressively pursue damages. Those who are harmed due to a defective product may be eligible to receive compensation for losses such as medical expenses, lost wages, lost future income, pain, suffering and much more.

Don’t let another moment pass without an experienced, aggressive Defective Auto Products Attorney on your side. Here at The Carlson Law Firm, we will protect your rights and fight for your recovery after a serious injury or loss caused by an auto defect. We work on a contingency basis which means you will not have to pay us unless we recover on your behalf. Contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation. We care, we can help.

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