About Automotive Recalls

Dear Tracy,

I have recently become a new car owner for the first time in my life, and am super excited to finally own a vehicle that I can rely on! It did occur to me, though, that there are sometimes recalls on cars. Can you explain what a car recall means, how I will know if there is one, and what I need to do?


Grace M.

Dear Grace,

Congratulations on your new car! Odds are great that you will have many worry-free miles ahead before you have any issues, providing that you take good care of your vehicle and tires. Automotive recalls do happen, however, so your questions are good ones to ask.

The reason for an automotive recall to be issued is that a problem has been discovered, which poses a risk of injury or property damage. It can be the manufacturer that issues the recall, or sometimes recalls are ordered by the U.S. Department of Transportation through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, upon investigation of problems that have been reported.

While car owners may learn of a recall on the news or by word-of-mouth, an official letter is sent to vehicle owners concerning specific auto recalls. This should be considered confirmation that there is an issue with your specific make and model. A recall letter will include detailed information about the nature of the problem or defect. Instructions are provided regarding what your next steps should be to remedy the problem, as well as the time frame within which the vehicle needs to be brought in for the corrective measures. All issues should be rectified at no cost to you. Drivers who have had repairs done prior to the issuance of a recall may be eligible for reimbursement with the proper receipts or paperwork.

Vehicle owners of used cars, or other owners who fear they may miss delivery of a recall notification letter for some reason, can also contact an authorized dealership for more information if they hear about a recall.