What You Need to Know About Car Recalls

Photo (cc) by USCPSC

The recall of millions of vehicles this year has meant congressional hearings, fired GM executives, and prolonged heartache for the families of people killed because of defects. (GM attributes 13 deaths to faulty ignition switches, but others say the number is much higher.)

While the GM recalls — 16.5 million vehicles, including 3.1 million for faulty switches — are garnering the most press, it certainly isn’t the only automaker calling back its vehicles for repairs. Toyota, Mercedes-Benz and Ford have all recently issued recalls. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that there were 14 manufacturer recalls in the first 10 days of June alone.

Most vehicle recalls don’t get picked up by the media, so it’s up to you to do some legwork and make sure your vehicle doesn’t have any safety issues. In the video below, Money Talks News finance expert Stacy Johnson outlines what you need to know about car recalls.

Watch the video and then keep reading for more information.

Has your car been recalled?

The NHTSA recorded more than 700 safety recalls in 2013, meaning nearly 22 million vehicles were found to have some type of safety defect. And that’s just in the last year.

Even more startling is the fact that millions of cars are bought and sold without these defects ever being corrected. An analysis by Carfax indicates that more than 3.5 million vehicles were listed for sale in 2013 that were subject to a recall but had not yet been repaired.

How can you protect yourself and your family?

Manufacturers send notices to vehicle owners of any safety defect, but the best way to be sure your vehicle isn’t subject to a recall is to head to the NHTSA website. The agency posts recall information on its website, but you’ll also want to head to the search page on SaferCar.gov to look for your particular vehicle.

Right now, you can search by vehicle year, model and make, but later this year you should also be able to simply type in your vehicle identification number or VIN to find any recalls affecting your car, truck or van. If you don’t want to wait, you can already search by VIN on many manufacturer websites. If you have a Toyota or GM vehicle – the two companies with the most current recalls – you can head to the Toyota recall center or the GM recall center.

Meanwhile, back at SaferCar.gov, you can also search for recalls involving child restraints, tires and other equipment.

What to do if your car has a recall

The answer to this is easy: Take it to a dealership, any dealership, as soon as possible for a fix. Depending on the recall, you might want to take the vehicle off the road until you can get it into the shop.

If your car is less than 10 years old, any safety-related recall repair should be totally free. However, once your vehicle passes the 10-year mark, you may be on the hook for paying for the work.

In the event you already paid to have the defect fixed prior to the recall, you may be eligible for a refund. However, the repair must have occurred within one year of the NHTSA opening an engineering analysis of the vehicle or within two years of when the manufacturer notifies the government of the defect.

Either way, you need to get your reimbursement request submitted within 10 days of the mailing date of the last recall notification sent by manufacturers to owners.

How else to protect yourself and your family

Finally, when car shopping, be sure to take the time to search for any recalls listed for the vehicle you’re eyeing.

If you find a recall, ask for proof that the vehicle was repaired.

And go ahead and take that one step further too. Ask the dealer or person selling the car to provide a written statement that the vehicle hasn’t been in a serious accident. If a car has been in an accident, ask for proof of repairs. Keep in mind, some damage caused by an accident can be just as dangerous as a safety defect subject to a recall.

Was your vehicle one of the millions recalled by GM or Toyota? Tell us your story in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
10 Common Ways Seniors Get Scammed
10 Common Ways Seniors Get Scammed

Here’s what to watch for to make sure you don’t fall prey to some of the biggest rip-offs targeting seniors.

5 States Where Drivers Pay the Most for Car Insurance
5 States Where Drivers Pay the Most for Car Insurance

Auto insurance will cost you more than three times as much in one state compared with another. Here’s how to lower your rates no matter where you live.

Not Asking About This in the Hospital Can Cost You Thousands
Not Asking About This in the Hospital Can Cost You Thousands

Medicare recipients who fail to clarify their hospital status can pay a high price.

7 Surprising Things That Damage Your Credit Score
7 Surprising Things That Damage Your Credit Score

A seemingly small stumble can cause your credit score to plummet.

The Annuity Everyone Needs — and Anybody Can Get
The Annuity Everyone Needs — and Anybody Can Get

This simple strategy can put more money in your pocket during retirement.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again
9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again

The warehouse store offers an enormous selection, but these products aren’t coming back.

11 Things Retirees Should Always Buy at Costco
11 Things Retirees Should Always Buy at Costco

This leader in bulk shopping is a great place to find discounts in the fixed-income years.

Over 50? The CDC Says You Need These 4 Vaccines
Over 50? The CDC Says You Need These 4 Vaccines

Fall is the time to schedule vaccines that can keep you healthy — and even save your life.

11 Senior Discounts for Anyone Age 55 or Older
11 Senior Discounts for Anyone Age 55 or Older

There is no need to wait until you’re 65 to take advantage of so-called “senior” discounts.

11 Household Items That Go Bad — or Become Dangerous
11 Household Items That Go Bad — or Become Dangerous

When you get the impulse to stockpile these everyday items, pay close attention to their expiration dates.

8 Things You Can Get for Free at Pharmacies
8 Things You Can Get for Free at Pharmacies

In this age of higher-priced drugs and complex health care systems, a trip to the pharmacy can spark worry. Freebies sure do help.

7 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score Fast
7 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score Fast

Your financial security might soon depend upon the strength of your credit score.

These Are the 4 Best Medicare Advantage Plans for 2020
These Are the 4 Best Medicare Advantage Plans for 2020

Medicare Advantage customers themselves rate these plans highest.

The 10 Most Commonly Stolen Vehicles in America
The 10 Most Commonly Stolen Vehicles in America

A new model parks atop the list of vehicles that thieves love to pilfer.

19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree
19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree

These jobs pay more than the typical job in the U.S. — and no bachelor’s degree is required.

The 15 Worst States for Retirees in 2020
The 15 Worst States for Retirees in 2020

Based on dozens of metrics tied to affordability, quality of life and health care, these are not ideal places to spend retirement.

5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free
5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free

Hesitant to drop $119 a year on an Amazon Prime membership? Here’s how to get it for free.

10 Reasons Why You Should Actually Retire at 62
10 Reasons Why You Should Actually Retire at 62

If you can, here are several good reasons to retire earlier than we’re told to.

26 States That Do Not Tax Social Security Income
26 States That Do Not Tax Social Security Income

These states won’t tax any of your Social Security income — and in some cases, other types of retirement income.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

5 Keys to Making Your Car Last for 200,000 Miles
5 Keys to Making Your Car Last for 200,000 Miles

Pushing your car to 200,000 miles — and beyond — can save you piles of cash. Here’s how to get there.

14 Things That Are ‘Free’ With Medicare
14 Things That Are ‘Free’ With Medicare

These services could save you money and help prevent costly health problems.

5 Things That Make Life More Meaningful for Retirees
5 Things That Make Life More Meaningful for Retirees

Retirees agree: These are the things that give them purpose and fulfillment in their golden years.

15 Amazon Purchases That We Are Loving Right Now
15 Amazon Purchases That We Are Loving Right Now

These practical products make everyday life a little easier.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.