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What to Do When You Get a Recall Notice

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author photo by Autotrader March 2011

In the context of automotive news, the issuance of a recall notice – of late – is often 'front page,' while a carmaker's profit or loss is typically relegated to the business section, and new product announcements rarely make it out of automotive classifieds. Part of that, of course, is the notion that many recall notices are related to vehicular safety. How you get the news of a recall isn't important here; it's what you do with that news that matters most.

Prior to the issuance of a recall, a manufacturer will have identified an issue, may have made an attempt to ameliorate that issue with its supplier, and manage the corrective measures without the supervision of a governmental entity. When that strategy fails to work within an appropriate period of time, the governing agency is notified of the automaker's plan to fix the problem. The Government then signs off on that plan, and news of the recall is sent to on-record owners of the vehicle as well as appropriate news outlets. It's important to note that recalls are issued even when the statistical probability of failure is very low; we were told that as few as twenty-five occurrences in a million-vehicle population could result in a recall notice.

If the vehicle malfunction suggests a risk of injury or death, reference to that risk will be present in the owner's notice. Obviously, if the recall notice warns that the vehicle should not be driven, park it. In those instances the manufacturer should offer to have it transported to a convenient dealer for repair and/or replacement of the affected mechanism.

When in receipt of the notice – and there's not the risk of accident or injury with your vehicle's continued operation – contact your dealer, reference the notice and request a service appointment, making sure that replacement parts are in the dealer's inventory before dropping it off. If the servicing dealer requires your vehicle all day or overnight, a request for a service loaner or free rental vehicle is entirely reasonable. In the interim, attempt to avoid those circumstances described in the recall notice, i.e., if a suspension shimmy could occur at speeds above 70 mph, avoid exceeding 70 miles per hour.

When a recall notice is received, pay attention to the recall, act on the instruction, and know that in the event of a recall both the government and automaker have in mind your best interests. You never know when one small fix on your car could, at very least, save further damage to your car.

This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
What to Do When You Get a Recall Notice - Autotrader