Purchasing a defective vehicle can lead to more than just buyer’s remorse – you could suffer serious or catastrophic personal injuries if the defect causes a car accident. Some of the most notorious vehicle recalls have involved hazards such as bad brakes, electrical issues, car fires and even explosions. If you have a vehicle with a defect, the manufacturer may have issued a recall. Finding out about the recall is the first step toward solving the problem.
When a company recalls a vehicle, it means something is wrong with it. The company is asking consumers to bring the vehicles back to the factory or dealership for a refund or cost-free repairs. A vehicle recall is a dangerous situation consumers should take seriously. When a safety organization or the vehicle’s creator issues a recall, it means it has either noticed an issue or received complaints from consumers. The defect may have already caused serious accidents, injuries or deaths by the time a company issues a recall.
Throughout history, almost all major vehicle manufacturers have issued at least one significant vehicle recall. Toyota, Chevrolet, Ford, Audi and Honda have all been involved in infamous safety issues and vehicle recalls. Recalled vehicles have caused significant injuries, from burns and lacerations to traumatic brain injuries. Even a minor defective part in an automobile could trigger a response that causes a catastrophic collision. A recalled vehicle could contain many different types of defects.
Consumers can report safety problems they experience with their vehicles to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Consumer complaints initiate most vehicle recalls in the U.S. A vehicle manufacturer may be unaware of the issue, or else intentionally fail to disclose information about the defect to save money or preserve its reputation. If you notice a defect, report a safety issue to the NHTSA right away. Your complaint could trigger an investigation and potentially save lives.
The best way to protect yourself from a vehicle defect is to check the national recall list regularly. The NHTSA offers a simple way to check your exact vehicle for announced recalls or recognized defects: the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) search tool. Each vehicle created has a unique VIN. You can find this 17-character number on your dashboard, in the far corner on the driver’s side. Look through the bottom right side of your windshield from outside of your car to see the VIN. Enter the vehicle identification number into the NHTSA’s online recall search tool.
The NHTSA will automatically run your vehicle’s VIN through its database to match it with any outstanding recall announcements. If a recall in the last 15 years pertains to your vehicle, you will see information about the recall or defect. The NHTSA’s recall search tool will not show whether someone has already repaired the defect. You may have to take your car to a dealership or auto repair shop to find out if a previous owner resolved the issue. The VIN search tool also will not work on international vehicles.
If your vehicle does contain a defect and it is on the recall list, follow the directions for how to initiate repairs. The automaker will instruct consumers to take their vehicles to dealerships, schedule repairs or return their vehicles for full refunds. Follow the instructions on a recall exactly. If the recall says not to drive your vehicle, for example, get it towed to the dealership instead for safety reasons. The automaker will typically pay to repair or replace a recalled part. If you get into an accident in a recalled vehicle, contact a Montana auto defect lawyer about a potential product liability lawsuit.