What Should I Do If My Car Was Recalled?

We hear about vehicle recalls all the time. In some cases, we see entire vehicles facing recalls due to safety issues with the design. However, what happens much more often is that individual parts in a vehicle face recall because they are flawed. When a recall occurs, the car manufacturer will typically send notice to any individual known to own who particular vehicle to inform them about the recall. However, there are also other ways for individuals to check to see if their vehicle has any active recalls, and we will discuss that here.

Checking Your Vehicle for Recalls

Even if you have never received notice that a recall has been issued for a vehicle, you should still periodically check to see if your vehicle has any potential issues that could impact safety on the roadway. You can very easily check for recalls for your specific vehicle by going to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) webpage devoted to safety and recalls.

The first thing you will see at the top of that webpage is an area to enter your vehicle identification number (VIN). There are various areas around your vehicle that you can find your VIN number. Most modern vehicles will have the VIN number viewable through the windshield on the driver’s side dashboard. Additionally, the number should be in the driver’s side door jamb. There will be a little sticker on the inside of the door jamb that will contain the VIM number.

When you look for the number on a vehicle, it will essentially look like a barcode, with each letter and number containing specific information pertaining to your vehicle. There are no two VIN numbers that are exactly the same.

You may also be able to find the VIN number on various documents related to your vehicle, including the vehicle’s title, the DMV records, your vehicle’s insurance card, or the vehicle’s registration.

What if Your Car is Recalled?

If you find out that your vehicle is under recall, do not panic. For the vast majority of recalls, individuals will be allowed to drive their vehicle to the dealership and have it repaired for free. However, if the recall pertains to a particularly serious safety concern, individuals will be asked to park their car until they can have it towed to the dealership to be prepared for free.

If the recall notice says that you should not operate the vehicle, do not do so. This could create a major safety hazard for yourself and for others in the roadway around you.

After you find out that a recall applies to a vehicle or parts in your vehicle, getting the issue fixed needs to be the priority. By law, the vehicle manufacturer must choose one of the three options here for correcting the issue:

  • Repair. The manufacturer can repair the vehicle or the part at no cost to the owner.
  • Replacement. If the problem cannot be fixed, the manufacturer can provide the owner with another identical vehicle or similar model.
  • Refund. The manufacturer may also choose to refund the purchase price of the vehicle, minus in amount for reasonable depreciation.

This repair, replace, or refund process can apply to vehicles as well as vehicle accessories, including car seats, wheels, etc.

Contact our Portland auto product liability attorneys today.