Are You Driving a Defective or Recalled Car?

Mechanic repairing car

This statistics of defective or recalled cars are alarming. In 2017, 63 million recalled vehicles were in use across the country. Could your car be one of them? Click here to check the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) database.

My law firm has worked on cases where people have been injured by defective and recalled automobiles. Even more alarming, family-oriented vehicles such as minivans and SUVs are more likely to have open recalls on the road. In any given year, only about 75 percent of recalled vehicles actually get fixed, according to the NHTSA, which administers the recalls.

Are people too busy to bring their cars in for recall maintenance? Have they been properly informed? Owners of the remaining 25 percent are either unaware of the recalls or, as one recent study suggests, they ignore them because fixing the problem would be an inconvenience.

According to the National Safety Commission (NSC), heeding recalls is crucial to minimizing accidents on U.S. streets and highways. “Drivers may not realize how serious safety recalls really are,” said Maureen Vogel, a spokesperson for the NSC. “But manufacturers don’t issue recalls unless the defect poses a real risk. Even if the problem seems small, it is important to fix recalls when they occur.”

What a Recall Means

Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) maintained by NHTSA include performance requirements for all vehicles made in or imported to the U.S. and driven on public roads. These requirements monitor vehicle parts that are critical to safe operation (like brakes, steering and lighting) as well as parts that protect passengers in the event of a crash (like air bags and safety belts).

When a safety-related defect that will prevent a vehicle from meeting these federal standards is identified, a recall is issued. Vehicle manufacturers usually discover such defects, but occasionally they are identified when many individual car owners report the same problem, prompting NHTSA to open an investigation.

Once a recall has been determined, the vehicle manufacturer is legally required to inform car owners about it (typically by mail). The manufacturer must also inform owners of how to get the problem corrected and must provide repairs at no cost.

Stay Informed, Stay Safe

How do you know if your car has a recall notice?

  • Keep your registration up to date.
  • Go through your mail thoroughly.
  • A quick online search through the NHTSA using your car’s VIN number will let you see all related open recalls, as well as information about repairs. You’ll also have the option of getting future recall alerts by e-mail.

If you or a loved one have been seriously injured in your vehicle–or by your vehicle–make sure you call a lawyer as soon as possible. Timing is crucial. Do not let anyone destroy your car or take title to it.

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Gregg S. Harrison has been practicing law in Texas since 2001. He focuses on cases involving all types of accidents, product liability, personal injury, and premise liability. Mr. Harrison is also an experienced family law and estate planning attorney. He is dedicated to helping clients through extremely stressful situations.