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Millions of defective vehicles and automotive parts are recalled every year. In some cases, auto recalls can be a potential safety issue. This is why the moment you receive a recall notice on your vehicle, you should make it a priority to take care of the problem as soon as possible to ensure your safety.

Why Do Vehicle Recalls Occur?

An auto recall is issued when there is a reason to believe there is a defect in a specific make and vehicle model. These defects can compromise the safety of the driver, passenger, or other individuals on the road. There is often communication about the potential defect between the automaker and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) before the public receives a recall notification. During these talks,  the NHTSA notifies auto manufacturers of complaints received. Typically, automakers will voluntarily decide to conduct a recall after discovering a defect.

Auto recalls occur for various reasons. The following are just a few examples of real-world defects and recalls:

Steering: 1.4 million Ford Fusion and Lincoln MKZ sedans had a safety defect where loose steering wheel bolts may result in the steering wheel detaching from the steering column.

Brakes: General Motor recalled 210,000 vehicles this year because the brake lines could trap gas and impede braking performance. General Motors said the defect occurred due to improper processes to improve toughness and reduce friction.

Seat-belts: Ford Motor Co. recalled 2 million trucks this year due to a seat-belt malfunction. The seat belts equipped in F-150 trucks between model years 2015 through 2018 could cause smoke or fire when they deploy.

Airbags: Takata is responsible for the largest auto recall in history due to faulty airbags that could explode and spray shrapnel into the driver and passenger’s face and body. There have been at least 22 deaths associated with the Takata airbag safety defect. Roughly 37 million vehicles are part of the Takata airbag recall.

Ignition switch: General Motors recalled more than 30 million vehicles due to a defect in the ignition switch. The car’s ignition could potentially move from the “on” position to the “accessory” or “off” position resulting in a loss of power and the engine turning off.

How Will I Know if There is a Recall on my Car?

When there is an auto recall, manufacturers are required to send a notice to owners of the affected vehicles. This is typically done through the mail and urges owners to get the safety defect repaired. This notice describes the safety issue that initiated the recall, the risks it poses, and any warning signs the vehicle owner should be aware of.

The recall notice must include the following:

  • A description of the defect or noncompliance
  • The risks or hazards associated with the problem, including any warning of the problems
  • A brief description of the defect remedy
  • When the remedy will be available
  • How long the repair will take
  • A description of what owners can do if they cannot have the problem corrected within a reasonable time

The notice will also contain instructions for scheduling a time to have the issue fixed at a local dealer, most of the time at no cost to you. You will likely receive instructions to contact your local dealer to schedule an appointment. If it becomes a hassle to reach the dealer, contact the manufacturer for help. You may file a complaint with the NHTSA if the dealer or manufacturer is not cooperating with you to fix the safety issue.

Who Pays for the Safety Recall Repairs on my Vehicle? 

In most recall cases, the vehicle owner does not have to pay for any safety defect repairs. The auto manufacturer is typically responsible for repairing any safety defects free of charge to the vehicle owner.

However, there is an exception. Auto manufacturers are not obligated to fix safety issues on vehicles that are older than ten years old. If this is your case, you should still inquire about your specific situation because some manufacturers will choose to take care of the repairs regardless of the vehicle’s age.

How Long will Repairs Take on my Recalled Vehicle?

The amount of time it will take for the repair depends on the type of recall on your vehicle. For example, a simple software update may only take a few minutes, while a defect in the brakes can take a few hours. Another determining factor is the number of vehicles affected in the safety recall. The bigger the recall, the more likely you will have to wait longer for an appointment with a local dealer. If you do not feel comfortable driving your vehicle in the meantime, find an alternate way to get around. Perhaps you can carpool to work or take public transportation until your vehicle’s safety defect has been resolved.


However, recalls don’t always work out as smoothly. When there is a large-scale demand for recalls and repairs, it may take time before your vehicle’s problems are resolved. If you find yourself in this situation, your best option for your safety and the safety of others is to look into other remedies.

What If I Feel there is a Safety Defect on my Vehicle, but A Recall Hasn’t Been Issued?

If auto manufacturers decide to ignore a safety defect, or if drivers are noticing problems with their vehicle, there is another route of initiating a recall. After noticing a problem with your vehicle, you may go online and report it to the NHTSA. If other drivers report a similar issue with the same vehicle, the NHTSA will likely open an investigation to determine if a safety recall is necessary.

Never Ignore a Safety Recall Notice

Auto recalls are issued for a very important reason. Your safety. Vehicles with safety defects create a danger to people driving along with others surrounding them. Such defects can lead to serious car crashes that may result in catastrophic injuries, including death. The worst decision you can make after you are aware that your vehicle has a recall is to ignore the warning or procrastinate in fixing the issue. You will be putting yourself, your passengers, and other drivers on the road in danger.

How The Carlson Law Firm Can Help

It can be stressful to learn that your vehicle is part of a safety defect auto recall. What is even more stressful is not finding out or receiving a warning of a potential safety defect your vehicle may have until you have suffered injuries because of it.

If you or a loved one suffered injuries due to an auto safety defect, our defective auto products injury attorneys at The Carlson Law Firm are ready to help. We understand that auto companies will often recall defective parts after receiving reports of defects and crashes. These recalls are often delayed and do not immunize a company from liability for injuries resulting from a parts defect. Let us analyze your case and determine if you have a product liability claim. We have the resources required to protect your rights against large corporate auto manufacturers and will advocate relentlessly until you receive the justice you deserve. Contact us today for a free no-obligation consultation. We care, we can help.

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