Tips for Auto Sales and Purchases – Dealing With Vehicle Recalls

In recent years, there have been many recalls of cars and trucks, and it may come as no surprise when you receive a letter requesting that you bring in your vehicle for repairs due to a recall. Manufacturer recalls are meant to address safety problems, even minor ones. In 2013 alone, car companies called back more than 20 million vehicles in the U.S. for everything from minor parts issues to airbag issues that resulted in accidents, some of them serious. If your car or truck is recalled, don’t panic – just take action. Take these necessary steps to ensure the safety of your family and to prolong the life of your vehicle.

Have the Repairs Performed

This may sound simple, yet thirty percent of owners don’t bother to take in a car for the repairs. Letters usually go out to owners telling them to bring their vehicles to a dealer for free repairs. The recall doesn’t always affect every single make or model in a line, or even a model year, so study the details carefully.

Be Proactive when Dealing with Recalls

News media outlets are quick to emphasize recalls. However, it can take a month or more following a major news story for manufacturers to communicate the information to the auto owners and to send parts and instructions to auto sales dealers. If your vehicle is already having problems related to the recalled parts, don’t wait for the recall letter; have the issues diagnosed by the dealer. Better yet, sign up for email alerts on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) website when you purchase your car to receive free lists of recalls and service bulletins.

Check for Recalls Before They are Even Announced

Automakers announce recalls after they search state databases to find owners of their vehicles. But if you purchased a used car from a local independent auto sales dealer or you’ve relocated, they may not be able to find you. You should search the NHTSA database online regularly for recalls. If you should locate a recall on your car, call your auto sales dealer or the manufacturer’s customer service line and ask if it was fixed.

Be Aware of Other Repairs, Not Just Those Covered by the Recall

Manufacturers don’t always issue a broad recall. Automakers sometimes issue service bulletins to auto sales dealers telling them to perform certain specific repairs on specific cars that come in for maintenance or repairs. Other car dealers and some vehicle enthusiast discussion boards online usually share this kind of information with the auto community and can recommend a reputable source for repairs.