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What to Do After an Auto Part Recall

When you invest in a vehicle, you expect it to stay in good working condition for the foreseeable future. You do everything within your ability to make sure that it does, including taking it in for regular oil changes, maintaining proper air pressure in the tires, and keeping up with recommended maintenance.

These proactive measures can preserve the life of your vehicle while also helping minimize your risk of a car accident. A safe, well-running vehicle is less likely to malfunction, which can be a factor in crashes.

Some things are simply outside of your control, though. You should act quickly if your vehicle’s manufacturer issues an auto part recall.

Why Manufacturers Recall Auto Parts

Car manufacturers are responsible for producing vehicles with parts that meet minimum safety standards. When a part is defective, it does not meet that safety standard and can cause serious harm to both the car owner and others on the road. Consider some of the following examples of safety-related defects:

  • Accelerator components that stick or break
  • Air bags that deploy outside of situations for which they were designed
  • Vehicle components that break and fall off the vehicle, turning into debris
  • Fuel system components prone to leaks that can cause vehicle fires
  • Steering components that may unexpectedly break
  • Seat belts that fail during normal use
  • Car seats with defective buckles, safety belts, or other components

If, after manufacturing and selling a vehicle, the manufacturer determines that it failed to meet the minimum safety standard in some capacity, it will issue an auto part recall. During the recall, the car manufacturer will address the safety issue by one of the following means:

  • Repairing the recalled part
  • Replacing the recalled part
  • Offering a refund to vehicle owners
  • Repurchasing the vehicle, although only in rare situations

The majority of recalls are issued voluntarily. However, there are times when the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has to step in and tell a manufacturer of its failure to meet safety standards, and that a recall is necessary.

Whether manufacturers willingly recall a part or are told to do so by the NHTSA, they are obligated to inform consumers who purchased the affected vehicle.

Always make sure that your vehicle registration is up to date with your most current mailing address. Manufacturers notify car owners of auto part recalls by sending them letters through the mail, so you will miss out on important safety information if you fail to keep your vehicle registration current.

You can also look up whether your vehicle is subject to any recalls. To do this, you’ll first locate your Vehicle Identification Number, or VIN. This is a 17-digit number located on the bottom left side of your vehicle’s windshield, but you can also find it on your registration card.

Use your VIN to look up any recalls on the NHTSA’s recall website. It will show whether there are any open recalls for your vehicle.

It is important to note that not all defects are safety-related. Here are some examples of defects that are not related to safety and do not require a recall:

  • Radios or air conditioners that do not operate as intended.
  • Rust that does not affect the structural integrity of the vehicle.
  • Poor paint quality or blemishes.

What You Should Do After an Auto Part Recall

Ideally, you should have the affected auto part serviced promptly. The letter you received notifying you of the affected part should direct you to contact the dealer for a repair. When you do, the dealer will repair or replace the part for free.

Never pay a car dealer to repair a part that has been recalled. This service is performed for free due to the car manufacturer’s failure to meet the minimum safety standards.

There may be times when having the part fixed promptly is not possible. Maybe you live far away from the dealer, or your work schedule does not allow you to take your vehicle in during the dealer’s offered hours. If you are unable to get your vehicle in, be sure to follow the interim safety guidance.

Recall notifications should always include interim safety guidance. This guidance is intended to help you drive safely until you are able to have the part fixed or replaced, so pay careful attention to any information cited in the recall notice. Follow any suggestions that will help you reduce the chances of being involved in an accident or experiencing a vehicle breakdown until you can get into the dealer.

What Can Happen if You Ignore an Auto Recall

Maybe you’ve been driving your vehicle for weeks, months, or even years without any serious issues. When you receive the recall notice in the mail, it might be hard to believe that your vehicle poses a safety hazard. In that moment, you can decide to contact the dealer for a free solution to the problem, or you can toss the recall notice and continue on as if everything is normal.

Just because your vehicle has not had issues with the recalled part just yet does not mean that it won’t in the future. Ignoring a recall and foregoing any repairs is generally considered a careless act, which could leave you on the hook for damages if the recalled part ever malfunctions and contributes to a car accident.

When you ignore a recall, you increase your own risk for:

  • Causing a car accident
  • Injuring yourself or others
  • Financial liability for crash damages, like auto repairs and medical bills

Filing a Car Accident Injury Claim

By now, you understand how serious auto part recalls are and that you should act quickly. However, defects are just one of many contributing factors that can cause a car accident.

If another driver’s negligent or reckless behavior contributed to your accident, you could potentially recover compensation for your related damages. The process of filing a personal injury claim can be tedious, though, which is why you may want the guidance of an experienced car accident attorney.

To get started with this process, contact us at The Solomon Law Group for a free evaluation of your case.

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