Safety recalls for vehicles are a common occurrence in the United States, serving as a vital mechanism to address safety concerns and ensure the well-being of drivers and passengers on roads and highways. These recalls are initiated by manufacturers or regulatory bodies when a defect or potential hazard is identified, prompting a swift response to rectify the issue and prevent accidents.
In this informative article, we will cover the basics of vehicle recalls, explore the underlying risks associated with them, and provide valuable guidance to drivers on the necessary steps to take when a recall is announced.
If you were injured in an accident that may have been related to a car recall, call FGB Law Firm today at 941-979-9010 for a free consultation with a car accident lawyer serving Port Charlotte, FL and the surrounding areas.
What Are Motor Vehicle Recalls?
When manufacturers identify a problem with a vehicle that may put occupants at risk or cause property damage, they issue recall notices. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) also issues recalls when there is a potential threat to public safety, requiring the repair of affected products.
What Are Safety Defects?
A safety defect refers to something that:
- Creates an unsafe driving environment
- Exists among a fleet of cars that were all made by the same company
Procedures for Recalls Issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Agency
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is responsible for enforcing car safety regulations in the United States. As part of their mandate, automakers are required to bear the expenses of addressing any safety-related concerns for their customers, without any additional cost.
Manufacturers may be reluctant to implement extensive recalls because of the expensive nature of replacing defective parts and conducting associated repairs. Nonetheless, the NHTSA follows a recall process to address any safety concerns that may arise.
Typically, the recalls process involves the following steps.:
- Car complaints
- An investigation by the Office of Defects Investigation (ODI)
- Vehicle recall notice issued by NHTSA
How Can I File a Car Complaint with the NHTSA?
Manufacturers may choose to conduct recalls if they identify potential safety concerns. Other times recalls can be initiated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or through legal proceedings. The latter can result from consumers’ own investigations. There are three ways to notify the NHTSA of a safety issue:
- Make a call to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s vehicle safety hotline
- Report the issue online
- Send a letter to the Department of Transportation National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Office of Defects Investigation.
If the NHTSA receives multiple complaints about the same issue with a particular vehicle make, model, and year, it may initiate an investigation. Following the recall, the Office of Defects Investigation will further examine the root cause of the problem.
The process usually entails the following:
- Screening: Reviewing customer complaints to see if further investigation is needed
- Petition analysis: Reviewing petitions for defect probes
- Investigation: Through two phases that look into possible safety defects.
- Management of Safety Recalls, or Recall Monitoring
Vehicle Recall Issued by NHTSA
The NHTSA holds the responsibility for issuing recalls related to potential safety concerns. While the NHTSA has the ultimate authority, manufacturers have the right to challenge claims and present new data.
Once the recall is issued, the public receives alerts and instructions. Typically, customers are required to book appointments with the service department of their preferred dealership.
If you’re worried about recalls but unsure if they affect your vehicle, consider signing up for alerts through the NHTSA.
Is My Car Under Recall?
Curious about the safety of your car or if it has been recalled? If it is under recall, you will receive a notification. Manufacturers are required to send notices to all known owners of the affected vehicle within 60 days of issuing a recall. Sign up on their website for automatic email alerts whenever the NHTSA announces a recall.
You can also check the NHTSA’s recall database to see if your vehicle is included in a recall.
Common Safety-Related Defects
The most common defects related to safety during car recalls include:
- The unexpected failure of the steering mechanism leading to a loss of vehicle control
- A malfunctioning or stuck accelerator
- Broken or cracked wheels
- Failing seats
- Random deployment of the airbag system
- Safety belts, buckles, or other components of car seats that are faulty and pose a risk of injury
Regular inspection, servicing, and replacement of brake pads are necessary due to normal wear and tear. Additionally, there may be non-safety-related issues such as excess oil consumption.
Who Is Responsible for Reporting Safety Recalls?
The manufacturer is responsible for vehicles and all factory-installed accessories. They are obligated to report issues to the NHTSA, notify vehicle owners, and offer free repairs.
Notification, reporting, and recall actions for equipment not installed by the vehicle manufacturer are handled by the equipment manufacturer. Make sure your home address and car registration information are up to date. This is crucial for receiving prompt recall alerts.
Do Vehicle Recalls Expire?
If the automaker remains in operation, you have the right to receive free repairs for recall-related problems. Even if a car is sold after being recalled, the new owner is still subject to the recall.
Imagine purchasing a used car, only to discover that it has an unresolved safety defect that led to its recall. In such a situation, you are legally entitled to bring your car in for free repairs due to the ongoing recall.
Evidence from vehicle recalls can be valuable in a court of law. The manufacturer’s admission through the recall process provides substantial evidence of a car’s issues and problems.
Who Pays for Vehicle Recalls?
The responsibility for addressing safety defects and covering repair costs lies with the manufacturer. If you have already made repairs due to a recall, you should be reimbursed. Automakers are obligated to pay for recall-related repairs for up to one year after notifying customers of a recall. Vehicle owners can find solace in knowing that this compensation also covers pre-announcement expenses.
Can I File a Lawsuit if I Was Injured by a Recalled Car?
Absolutely! It’s crucial to seek legal counsel to understand your rights and explore potential financial recovery options.
FGB Law Firm specializes in assisting personal injury victims in their pursuit of fair compensation. If you or a loved one has suffered injuries due to the negligence of another party, we are here to ensure that justice is served. Call FGB Law Firm at 941-979-9010 or complete our online form to schedule a free consultation today.