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Each year, millions of products are recalled for a variety of reasons. Items we use daily such as toys, food, and other items may be the subject of the latest recall. In fact, one area of recalls that occur more often than people may realize is for motor vehicles.  Further, vehicle recalls may range from a fix that is as simple as a label change to an issue as severe as explosive airbags. Because of the range in severity in safety concerns, it’s important to fully understand the danger your vehicle creates. Depending on the safety defect, you may be wondering if it’s OK to drive your vehicle until there is a fix or if you should find another way around.

When defects are found, the manufacturer should act quickly to rectify their products’ dangers to the public. When vehicle recall remedies take several months or years, it can lead to deadly consequences

What is a recall?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or manufacturer issues a recall once it is determined that a vehicle, piece of the motor, car seat, tires, braking system or other vehicle equipment: 1) create an unreasonable safety risk or 2) fail to meet minimum safety standards. 

If there is a recall, your vehicle’s manufacturer will need to notify you and fix the problem at no cost. They can either give you a refund, repairing it, replacing it, or, in rare cases, repurchasing the vehicle. 

A general safety defect is when the motor vehicle or an item of the vehicle equipment that :

  • Poses a risk to motor vehicle safety
  • May be in a group of vehicles of the same manufacturer or design, or items of equipment of the same manufacturer or type. 

How do recalls work?

The recall process begins once a defect is found. The first step in the process is you will receive a notice from the manufacturer about the defect and the intended repair. Please don’t ignore the notice. Experts warn that even the smallest recalls can involve life-threatening defects and must be dealt with as soon as possible. You must receive a notification letter within 60 days.  If you haven’t received a notification, it won’t hurt to reach out to the manufacturer or a local authorized dealer to check the status of the recall and when remedies will be available. 

If you receive a notification, read it carefully. The notice should:

  • Identify the product being recalled
  • Explain the risk or problem if its a recall safety
  • Set out what the remedy on offer
  • Outline what you need to do to get the remedy

Another way to check and see if your vehicle has been recalled for repairs is an online search tool found on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administrations website. All you need is to type in a vehicle identification number, or VIN. This is also a great tool for people who are looking to buy a vehicle. This tool can help warn you of safety concerns that a dealer or previous owner fails to disclose. 

The VINs can be found on the inside part of the driver’s side door, on the center pillar, where the door latches when it is closed. The VIN can also be found on a small metal plate mounted on the dash inside the lower corner of the windshield on the driver’s side.

What if there are no remedies available?

As simple as it may all seem, recalls don’t always work smoothly. When there is a large-scale recall, it may take time before there is an available appointment time with your local dealer. You should consider the following remedies if the manufacturer can’t fix your car:

  • Ask for a rental car: If your vehicle has been recalled, try to get in contact with your local dealership for a loaner vehicle. Most dealerships have a range of rental cars and some have policies that will loan them depending on how fast they can address your recall. 
  • Try another facility: If you call your local dealership and there is a waiting period, you may want to try to contact another facility. The dealership may be overwhelmed if there has been a recent recall that may demand a large number of replacement parts.
  • Follow recommended safety tips: Because of the high number of recalls, you may need to continue driving your vehicle. Check the recall notice for suggestions on how to operate your vehicle safely in the meantime. 

What are your rights during a vehicle recall?

You should receive a notification through the mail if your vehicle is recalled. If your vehicle model and make is determined to have a defect that impairs the vehicle’s safety, you have rights. Your rights include:

  • The right to receive a notification of the recall in writing
  • The right to be informed of when the remedy will be available and how long the remedy will take
  • All repairs are free of charge
  • The right to be provided with contact information if there are any other issues arise

You should be aware of these rights. The manufacturer should provide you with either of these options: repair, replacement, or refund. If you aren’t provided with any of these remedies, your rights have been violated. 

What can the Carlson Law Firm help?

If you or someone you love suffer injuries from a defect, contact our office for a free consultation. One of our attorneys can help determine if your accident was caused by a defective part. This could help with any medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages, and other damages. 

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