Car Recalls: What Consumers Don't Know
Car recalls are on the rise. Automakers recalled over 50 million vehicles in 2014, accounting for roughly 25% of the autos on the road in the United States. Takata air bags are still being recalled or are in vehicles that have yet to be recalled.
Takata air bags, installed in Honda vehicles and many others, have led to 19 manufacturers recalling their vehicles over airbag issues.
"Millions of recalled cars still may be on the road with unfixed issues," states Ankin Law Office. Consumers who are still confused about recalls need to know how the recall process works and what their responsibility is following a recall.
How a Recall is Made
Recalls are often safety-related. When a recall is made, the vehicle violates the federal motor vehicle safety standard. The recall must relate to a defect that meets the following:
The courts can impose a recall, but a lot of automakers will issue recalls voluntarily. Not all recalls are safety-related, but they're always related to a flaw or defect. Recalls stay around 10 – 20 million annually, but in 2014 and 2015, these numbers swelled to over 50 million.
Automakers that issue a recall may do so online on a government website, or they may post bulletins at mechanic shops and dealerships.
Serious recalls will result in letters being sent to owners to alert them of the issue their vehicle has and offer a solution to the problem. Takata's air bags, for example, resulted in Honda sending customers notices via email.
The company has even sent out their own experts to homes to inspect vehicles to ensure that they do not have the faulty air bags installed.
Investigations into a recall that is court-ordered is lengthy. The process starts with regulators evaluating the recall, investigating the cause of the problem and submitting conclusions to a review panel. The request is then made to the manufacturer if the review panel agrees that a recall should be made.
Notification and Responsibility of the Manufacturer
Automakers will use their own records along with the vehicle's registration to track down potential owners of a vehicle. The automaker will alert the owners so that they can schedule a repair or fix to the problem.
The automaker may offer to repurchase the vehicle.
Dealers do not have to provide a loaner vehicle to the owner, but they often will. Loaner vehicles may be offered when the fix for the recall is lengthy and will leave the owner without a vehicle for an extended period of time.
Owners can opt to ignore a recall notice, but this is the fault of the owner and not the automaker.
The owner has a right to refuse a recall repair or fix, but not having the recall fixed after notification may relieve the automaker from responsibility if a safety incident does occur. Recalls may also not be free.
Recalls that are for vehicles that are 15 years or older aren't required to be free. Manufacturers can opt to pay for a recall even for an older vehicle, but this is a voluntary payment and isn't required under law.