Buying a car is a big, expensive purchase that for many of us comes after much research, at least some haggling and a little trepidation about whether this vehicle is the right one. So, it is hard to describe just how aggravating it can be to learn later that your car is defective and may not be safe to drive.
Auto manufacturers around the globe recall millions of vehicles per year, often long after the cars have left factory floors and dealership lots. The recalls commonly cite a wide range of defects, from faulty brake lights to unexpected stalling and exploding airbags.
Some 1,000 recalls are announced in the U.S. alone each year, according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The average number of cars covered by each individual recall has varied in recent years from 50,000 to 90,000.
News of a recall can be stressful and confusing for car owners whose vehicles may or may not be covered. It is important to understand how the recall process works and where you can get accurate information about whether your vehicle is being called back.
How Recalls Work
Cars are recalled when it is determined that they do not meet minimum safety standards or otherwise pose an unreasonable risk. Manufacturers are required to fix the problem by repairing the vehicle, replacing it, offering a refund, or buying the car back.
NHTSA is a federal agency that investigates defective vehicle complaints, enforces federal recall requirements and provides information to consumers. The agency has the power to force car recalls, but auto manufacturers typically decide voluntarily to call cars back before federal regulators have to step in.
How Do I Know if My Car is Being Recalled?
A manufacturer that recalls a car is required to notify the registered owners of those vehicles by mail. That is why it is important to make sure that your registration is up to date and includes your current mailing address. The notification will typically include information about why the car is being recalled and what the manufacturer plans to do to fix the problem.
Car owners can also check for recalls on NHTSA’s website. There, you can search by your car’s vehicle identification number, as well as by the make, model and year. The VIN is 17 characters, listed on the left side of the car’s windshield and on the registration card.
Owners can sign up for email alerts tailored to recalls covering their specific vehicles through NHTSA’s website. NHTSA’s SaferCar app also gives car owners the ability to get recall alerts on their phones.
Your Rights as a California Car Owner
If you have been stuck with a detective or malfunctioning vehicle in California, it is important to seek the assistance of an experienced lawyer. A California lemon law attorney at Bickel Sannipoli APC can help you determine if your car has been recalled, file a complaint with NHTSA and pursue your rights under the state lemon law.
The lemon law generally requires car manufacturers to perform various repairs on vehicles while they are under warranty. It also forces a carmaker to buy back - or, sometimes, replace - any covered vehicle that the company cannot or will not fix.
Our California lemon law attorneys are conveniently located in Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco. Call us at (888) 800-1983 or contact us online to speak with a California lemon law attorney today.