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Understanding the Car Recall Process

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December 04, 2017
Edward Smith


Understanding the Car Recall Process

I’m Ed Smith, a Carmichael car accident lawyer. Every year, cars are recalled due to safety defects. When your car is recalled, there are steps you need to take. While a recall is not something to necessarily  be alarmed about, it is an alert that your vehicle could be safer than it is.

Incidence of Recalls

In the year 2015, approximately 51 million cars were recalled, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). That was somewhat less than the 65 million recalled in 2014. The number of recalls were affected due to the emphasis by Congress and public safety groups for better monitoring of safety issues. In addition, questions arose about whether recalls were being made promptly enough.

In 2014, there were 803 separate recalls dominated by Takata air bags and ignition switches at GM. Of this number, 123 were related to a NHTSA investigation. The remaining 680 were launched by the manufacturers due to safety defects. Concern was voiced that NHTSA was not forceful in pushing for recalls or investigating complaints.

The National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act

In 1966, the NHTSA was given the power to set up safety standards for motor vehicles, and compel manufacturers to meet the requirements. The agency was also given the ability to require automakers to recall parts or vehicles that fall below the benchmarks. In all, 390 million trucks, motorcycles, mopeds, cars and and RVs have been recalled since that time. In addition, approximately 46-million tires and about 66-million automotive parts and equipment have also been recalled.

How to Report Defects

Consumers are encouraged to report defects to the NHTSA. As more complaints are issued, this prompts an investigation into the possibility that a defect exists.You can report a defect by calling the Department of Transportation hotline at 1-888-327-4236. For those who speak Spanish, call 1-800-424-9153. Operators are bilingual.

Critical Safety Defects

When defining defects, the NHTSA monitors vehicles and parts that are defective in their design, manufacture or performance criteria. Examples of such defects are:

  • Components related to steering leading to lost vehicular control
  • Accelerator controls
  • Fuel system defects
  • Brake defects
  • Tire defects
  • Air bag defects
  • Electrical system defects

What to Do After Receiving a Recall Notice

The NHTSA tries to alert all owners of existing vehicles being recalled by sending a letter to their last known address. The letter will tell you what the defect is, how much of a risk is entailed and list what you need to look out for. If you suspect that a recall has been issued on your vehicle but have not been notified, you can check on the agency’s website. Enter the vehicle identification number and follow the steps.

Once you know a recall exists, you will be informed how to proceed. There is no charge for repairing a defect. If you are told you have to pay for repairs, contact the manufacturer or report it to NHTSA. If you are in an accident due to the defect after you received notice and ignored it, you may not be able to make a claim against the manufacturer.

You have up to 10 years to repair the recalled item. However, if it is a tire recall, you will have up to 60 days to have it fixed from the time you were notified.

Experienced Car Accident Lawyer in Carmichael

I’m Ed Smith, a Carmichael car accident lawyer. If you are in an accident due to a vehicle defect, you may suffer traumatic injuries. Having an experienced injury lawyer at your side can relieve the stress of financial concerns. Call me anytime. If you are out of the calling area, use my toll free line at (800) 404-5400. I will offer friendly and free advice.

I have practiced law for over 35 years and helped numerous Northern Californians with catastrophic cases such as traumatic brain injuries. I’ve been here for clients in Carmichael through car accidents and wrongful deaths as well as truck accidents and pedestrian accidents.

If you want to know more about me and my legal practice, read comments on Avvo, Yelp and Google. You can visit my settlements and verdicts page to see what I’ve done for other clients.

Take the time to look at Million Dollar Advocates. This nationwide group allows members who have won $1 million cases or settlements for clients. I am pleased to say I am a member.

Stay on my website,, and read more about topics in personal injury law.

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