By: Allan M. Siegel
If you watch the news or keep up with the headlines, it's likely you
have seen reports of vehicles being recalled for one reason or another.
While recalls happen all the time, this year has seen more auto recalls
than ever before – an estimated record-setting
50 - 60+ million vehicles in the United States. That's on pace for more than three times the
amount of purchases Americans will make for new cars and truck this year.
In the past several months, the media has publicized large-scale recalls
from General Motors – including millions of recalls for ignition
switch defects – and most recently millions of recalls for defective
airbags manufactured by Takata Corporation. Last month, the National Highway
Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued a
consumer advisory urging those who own recalled vehicles due to airbag defects to take immediate
action and bring their cars in for service.
Large scale recalls and government warnings are concerning, but they only
come after the fact that
auto defects place vehicle owners, passengers, and others on the road at
risk of suffering injury or death. If you are concerned about defects and ways to ensure that your car is
safe, there are a few things you can do:
Car Owners – If you own your vehicle, you should receive notification of a
safety recall by mail – manufacturers are required by law to send
this. These notifications are important, so don't dismiss them as
junk mail. They will contain information about the recall, and whether
you should take your vehicle in for service at a certified dealer. There
should be no cost to you to service your vehicle for recall issues. If
you have concerns and haven't received a notification – especially
after hearing news stories of recalls – you can check yourself on
your vehicle manufacturer's website or on the
NHTSA VIN search feature.
Car Buyers – If you are considering buying a car, make research on recalls part of your
car-buying process. According to Carfax, an estimated 3.5 million used
vehicles with unaddressed recall issues were listed for sale in 2013.
You can protect yourself by searching the VIN number of the car you want
to buy. If a recall hasn't been fixed, it could give you leverage
for negotiating a lower price. Be sure to take the car in for service
after you buy if this is the case.
Rental Cars – Be warned that because there are no laws requiring companies to service
rental cars with safety recalls, some rental car agencies may still rent
vehicles that have unfixed recall issues. To protect yourself, you can
check a rental car agency's policy to see if they explicitly state
that they don't rent recalled cars. You can also check a make and
model or VIN number after you pick a car up. There is currently a bill
in Congress that would require rental car companies to fix recalled vehicles.
If you have questions about recalled vehicles, defective auto parts, or
your rights after an auto accident, contact our Washington, DC personal
injury attorneys for a free case evaluation.