What to Do If Your Car Has a Recall

Car recallsWith the advancement of vehicle technology, it’s no surprise that recalls seem to be happening more and more these days. If you purchased a pre-owned vehicle with a recall or missed a manufacturer's recall notice, you could unknowingly be driving a potential danger.  While it may seem like a hassle to get your car fixed or replaced, ensuring your safety and the safety of others on the road requires being informed about vehicle recalls and understanding your rights and responsibilities in addressing the issue.

Ohio is a state that has a history for having recalled vehicles still on the roads, ranking amongst the top ten states with more than 70,000 vehicles with “do not drive” or “park outside” notices. If you or a loved one has suffered an injury due to a recalled or defective vehicle, you may be eligible for compensation; however, there are certain stipulations that negate your eligibility for compensation through a lawsuit.

How to check for car recalls

Despite the fact that around 40 million cars have been recalled annually for the past five years, a significant number of these vehicles are still on Ohio roads. Checking for car recalls is crucial. Whether a recall is voluntary or mandated by the government, the manufacturer has a responsibility to notify all consumers about open recalls for their specific make and model. However, these notices can sometimes be lost, thrown away, or ignored. Moreover, if you purchased a pre-owned car, the recall letter may have been sent to the previous owner instead of you.

It's essential not to assume that your car is free from any recalls for defective parts. Fortunately, there are several ways to check for open recalls on your vehicle. You will need your Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), which can be found inside the driver's side car door, on the windshield near the bottom corner, on your vehicle registration form, or your auto insurance card.

Once you have your VIN, you can enter it on the NHTSA Safety Issues and Recalls page to find any past or current recalls. The manufacturer's website is also a reliable source for a current list of recalls. It is important to be diligent in conducting these searches to ensure your daily commute and weekend trips are as safe as possible.

The manufacturer's recall notice typically includes information about the parts and equipment that need to be serviced, the number of affected parts, a description of the defect or noncompliance issue, the reason for the recall, available options for addressing the problem, and a schedule for repair, replacement, or refund.

My car has been recalled; now what?

If your vehicle is subject to a recall, the manufacturer is legally obligated to provide three options:

  • Repair the vehicle defect at no cost to the consumer.
  • Replace the vehicle with an identical or similar model if the issue cannot be fixed.
  • Provide a refund for the purchase price with reasonable deductions for depreciation.

The recall notice will contain instructions for fixing the defective part, typically involving taking your vehicle to an authorized provider for service. Contact the nearest licensed dealership for the vehicle to inquire about the recall and ensure they have a manufacturer-authorized service department. Depending on the availability of businesses in your area, you may need to contact multiple service providers to find one that can accommodate your vehicle properly.

If the recall notice states that the defect poses a safety threat to the vehicle, it is crucial not to drive the car. Even if the recall allows for continued use of the vehicle, it is advisable to exercise caution and have the car serviced as soon as possible. If necessary, you can contact a towing service to transport your vehicle to an authorized provider for addressing the recall, ensuring your safety and the safety of others on the road. In some cases, a rental car may be provided until the issue is resolved.

It's important to note that vehicle recalls also extend to accessories such as car seats. If you have already addressed the issue at a repair shop before the recall was issued, you may be eligible for a refund of the service cost. Keep all relevant paperwork related to your vehicle repairs in case you are eligible for reimbursement later.

What are my rights during a recall?

In the event that the recalled part or issue cannot be fixed or multiple attempts to fix it have failed, your car may be classified as a lemon. Ohio lemon law can be complex, and you might face a situation where you are without a vehicle for several months while your case is being resolved. In such cases, an experienced attorney can represent you and seek compensation on your behalf if your car is deemed a lemon.

Understanding your rights when a car is recalled is essential. The compensation and reimbursement you are entitled to for service repairs depend on the type of recall and the age of your vehicle. When the U.S. government issues a recall, the manufacturer is generally required to complete the repairs within a reasonable time frame and at no cost to the consumer.

Voluntary recalls typically offer repairs within a similar period, but you may experience delays in getting your vehicle fixed due to parts shortages. In such instances, the dealership may provide a loaner car or cover the costs of a rental car while you wait, as well as the cost of towing if necessary.

Don’t ignore a recall

Around 75% of recalled vehicles are repaired, but some owners may ignore the recall notice or remain unaware of it, especially if they purchased a used car or never received the letter. Taking a proactive approach to checking for vehicle recalls is vital in preventing accidents caused by defective parts.

Vehicle owners who ignore a recall notice and fail to address the defect may be held liable in an auto accident if the defective part contributed to the crash. If you were aware of the defect but refused to fix it, you could also be held responsible. However, if you were unaware of the defect, the manufacturer may be considered negligent. In some cases, drivers may be found comparatively negligent, which can reduce the amount of compensation received based on their percentage of fault in the accident.

My car wasn’t recalled; can I still file a lawsuit?

If your vehicle was not subject to a recall but a defective part caused an auto accident, you may have grounds for a personal injury claim. In the event of an auto accident resulting from a product defect, you may be eligible for compensation for the damages you suffered. Additionally, if the manufacturer delayed issuing a recall, you may have a claim against them for negligence.

It is important to consult with legal professionals to understand the specific implications and potential liabilities related to auto accidents and recalls.  If your vehicle has been recalled, and you have questions concerning your rights and what you should do next, contact the experienced Columbus attorneys at Soroka & Associates. We will be glad to assist you with your claim and fight for your right to the compensation you deserve. To schedule an appointment, call our office, or complete our contact form. We want to help. Our Columbus products liability and car accident lawyers serve clients throughout Central Ohio.