What You Need To Know About Vehicle Recalls

In order to keep people safe while on the road, car manufacturers must let people know if their vehicles have a problem that could lead to a car accident or other safety hazard. This is generally done through the process of putting out a "recall." What this means is that if a car part is found to be defective in certain vehicles after the vehicles are sold, the owners are told to bring in their cars to a dealership or a certain garage for a free repair or part replacement. If you are wondering whether your vehicle has been affected by a recall, here's some information that you might want to know.

What Types Of Problems Might Cause A Recall?

Anything that might impact the safety of the car might prompt a recall, but problems that are only cosmetic in nature would not be included. For instance, faulty windshield wipers, a sticking accelerator or malfunctioning airbags would be a reason for a manufacturer to recall affected cars. Chipping paint or the tendency for the tailgate of a truck to rust, for example, would not be.

How Can You Tell If Your Car Has Been Recalled?

The National Highway Traffic and Safety Association has put up a website, called SaferCar.gov, that allows you to search for your vehicle by its vehicle identification number, or VIN. You can find your car's VIN by standing in front of the car on the driver's side of the windshield. Look in toward the dashboard, and you will see its unique series of letters and numbers. Type your car's VIN into the search bar and you'll see a list of any unchecked recalls that exist on your vehicle.

What Can You Do If You Do Find Recalls on Your Vehicle?

Call your dealership right away. The service department will schedule you for a free repair or parts replacement. SaferCar.gov will give you instructions as to how to proceed in the meantime; depending on how serious the hazard is, you might need to stop driving your car. If the hazard only applies to one non-essential part, such as one particular door, you'll be advised to avoid using that part until it can be repaired.

What If You Are In A Car Accident Due To A Recall?

Unfortunately, sometimes recalls are not found until people get hurt. If you are in the difficult situation of being in a car accident that you suspect was caused by a malfunction, you might be entitled to compensation from the car manufacturer.

It's important to realize that in some cases, there is not a malfunction. For example, your air bags might not go off if your car is hit from the side or behind; in many cars, they are only designed to go off if the car is hit from the front, and only at a certain velocity.

Other times, however, true safety hazards do cause accidents. This can happen before a recall is announced or after; if you are not contacted, then you might not know to have your vehicle serviced. If you think that this is your situation, your best course of action would be to contact a lawyer who specializes in car accidents caused by manufacturing defects. Many personal injury and car accident attorneys will be able to give you the appropriate advice for your particular situation. You can go to websites for these lawyers to find out more.

Remember, it's important to check regularly for recalls. In some cases, these safety hazards affect thousands of cars; these tend to be well-publicized. In other instances, however, only a few cars might be affected. If you have moved since purchasing your car, the manufacturer might not have your new address. Be sure to let your dealership know if you move, and check the government's SaferCar website regularly so you can learn about dangerous recalls and have your car fixed promptly.