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Vehicles are expensive. When motorists drive their vehicles away from a dealership, they hope to travel many miles before they need to come back for maintenance. But manufacturers sometimes issue recalls that can affect drivers of both new and old vehicles.
Recalls are safety precautions taken should a portion of a vehicle or the entire car or truck not operate in the manner it was intended. In many instances, auto manufacturers will directly contact customers who are affected by a recall via a letter, email or both. Individuals also can stay current on recalls by visiting the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s website (www.NHTSA.gov).
According to AutoTrader, recalls are becoming more common because of the complexity of modern vehicles. NHTSA flagged nearly 22 million vehicles for safety issues in 2013, and that number is on the rise. Drivers can follow these important steps if they learn of a recall.
Don’t panic, but don’t ignore recalls. The experts at Kelley Blue Book say recalls often occur due to a problem in the manufacturing process in similar models, and this issue may surface in other vehicles. Recalls do not guarantee vehicles will malfunction or break down. However, consumers are urged to take recalls seriously, adopting a “better safe than sorry” approach when recalls are announced.
Follow the instructions. A recall notice should come with instructions. Instructions often advise drivers to take their vehicles to the dealership where the cars were purchased. Notices may provide information regarding nearby dealerships for drivers who have moved since buying their cars or trucks.
No payment should be necessary. The cost of repairing the recalled part should not fall on your shoulders. Such repairs are paid by the manufacturer. The financial resource Bankrate.com notes that, “If you had the repair made before the recall was issued (up to a full year), the automaker is legally obligated to reimburse you, as long as you had the work done at one of its franchised dealers.” Save all receipts for the work. If work was done by a private mechanic, drivers still may be eligible for reimbursement.
Be patient. Dealerships are not responsible for making repairs until the date indicated on the recall notice, so motorists may need to wait before having their vehicles repaired.
Request a loaner vehicle. In some instances, recalls may take a few days to fix. Although not every dealership may make loaner vehicles available, it’s still worth requesting one so you are not inconvenienced.
Anyone having difficulty with a recall can contact the NHTSA online, by phone or by mail. Those who suspect a safety problem also can contact the agency and report their concerns.