Did you know that more than 53 million vehicles have recall notices in the U.S. during 2016? In fact, more vehicles and auto parts were recalled last year than at any other point in American history. Many of these vehicles were recalled for using defective Takata airbags. These airbags are linked to 11 deaths in the U.S. and almost 200 injuries. Due to a defect with the inflators, Takata airbags explode with excessive force during minor car crashes, sending shrapnel into drivers and passengers.
Although Takata airbags are responsible for much of the recent media attention on recalls, many other vehicles may have been recalled for other defects. If your vehicle is under recall, then it is extremely important to receive repairs as soon as possible. In some cases, defective auto parts may cause catastrophic injuries or death.
Many people will have no problem checking if their vehicles have been placed under recall. That is because automakers are required by federal law to inform vehicle owners of recalls. However, there are cases where these notices may not reach consumers. This generally happens when a person buys a used car from a private party and not a dealership.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) operates safercar.gov, a website that makes it easy to pull recall information. To check if your vehicle is under recall you will need to perform the following steps:
- Find your VIN: There are several ways to find your vehicle identification number (VIN). The easiest way is to look at your car insurance policyholder’s card. In addition, you may find your VIN on the dashboard of the driver’s side of your vehicle. Your VIN may also appear on your vehicle title and registration.
- Use Safercar’s search engine: Now that you have your VIN, type it into Safercar’s search engine on the front page. This website will only display results if your vehicle has recalls that have not been repaired. It will also only display information on vehicle recalls conducted over the past 15 calendar years and recalls conducted by light auto manufacturers. Very recent or older recalls may not be displayed by the website.
How Do I Get Recall Repairs?
Auto manufacturers are required to fix recalled vehicles at no-cost. If Safercar discovers your vehicle has unrepaired recalls, you have several options for seeking repairs. To receive recalls, you may take the following steps:
- Call your dealership: The first step to receiving repairs is to call your dealership. For example, if you have a Honda Civic, you would need to call a local Honda dealership. During the phone call, you will need to set up an appointment for repairs. It is possible that the dealership does not currently have the parts needed to repair your vehicle. In some cases, this means you could be left waiting weeks or months. Your dealership may offer to pay for a rental car until the repair date and while your vehicle is being serviced.
- Take your car to the dealership: Once your dealership confirms they can make repairs, you will need to bring in your vehicle. Depending on the nature of the recall, it may be too dangerous to drive your vehicle to the dealership. In these cases, you should ask your dealership if they can tow your vehicle in for repairs. If you received a recall notice from your manufacturer, then bring it with you during the appointment. You may also request this notice from your manufacturer.
Can I File a Lawsuit for Car Defects?
Vehicle and auto parts manufacturers do not always recall products after discovering defects. Perhaps the most famous case of this occurring was during the 1970s, when Ford released the Pinto. Engineers allegedly discovered a dangerous defect during the production process, but were pushed to release the vehicle anyways. In other cases, used car dealerships may conceal defects from prospective buyers. These are two of many possible situations where vehicle owners or their loved ones may have grounds to file lawsuits for damages.
Automakers and auto parts manufacturers have a legal obligation to ensure their products are free from defects. Damages from a product liability lawsuit can help cover the costs of catastrophic injuries or wrongful death, such as funeral expenses and medical bills.
Nashville personal injury attorney Stanley A. Davis is a passionate defender of people who have been harmed by defective consumer and auto products. If you or a loved one were harmed by a defective product, Stanley A. Davis can help you learn which legal options may be available.