North Carolina Department of Justice

North Carolina Department of Justice

North Carolina Department of Justice
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Keeping up with car recalls

6/13/2014

By Attorney General Roy Cooper

We rely on our cars to get us where we need to go safely. Vehicle recalls are in the news lately, and that may make you wonder whether your car is safe to drive. Learning about car recalls can help you make sense of the latest news, and know where to turn for more information.

There are two types of auto recalls: voluntary ones by the vehicle manufacturer and ones required by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Recalls are usually issued to improve your car, but not all recalls are because of safety issues. For example, your car could be recalled because it consumes too much oil or the air conditioning doesn’t work properly.

To find out if your car is subject to a recall:

  • Be on the lookout for any mail from the manufacturer or phone calls from the dealership where you bought your car. Manufacturers must tell all registered owners about any recalls.

  • Visit safercar.gov. You can search your vehicle’s make, model and year to find out if there have been any recalls by the NHTSA or the manufacturer.  You can search all product recalls, including motor vehicle recalls, at recalls.gov.

  • Contact your car manufacturer or local dealership. Using your Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), they can look to see if your car has been recalled. You can also call the Vehicle Safety Hotline at 888-327-4236.

If your car has been recalled, manufacturers will repair your car at a local dealership, give you a replacement or offer a refund. When equipment on your car doesn’t work, the manufacturer will usually repair or replace it for you for free if your car is less than 10 years old. Unfortunately, if your car is more than 10 years old, you will likely be responsible for repairs.

Even if you bought your car used, you’re still eligible to receive recall notices and get the problem fixed by the manufacturer’s authorized dealer. Call the manufacturer to let them know you now own the car, and they will put your information in a database if they ever need to get in touch with you about future recalls. You can also go to the manufacturer’s website and register your contact information using your car’s VIN.

In some cases, you may have already paid to have the problem on your car fixed.  You could still get reimbursed by the manufacturer. If you get a motor vehicle recall notice in the mail for something you already replaced, make sure you act quickly to get the money back you paid for repairs.

If you’re in the market for a new or used car, it’s a good idea to check recall information. Always check to see if a vehicle has been recalled before you buy it. If there is a recall, a franchise dealer may have already fixed the problem, but a used car dealer may not be obligated to see if a car has been subject to a recall. Do your homework and double-check recalls to stay safe and avoid problems.

For more tips on buying and owning a car, visit www.ncdoj.gov.