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Are You Safe From Auto Recalls?

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 56 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.

Vehicle Recall

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.