A recall is a free repair for a widespread safety defect or issue that doesn’t meet federal safety standards. They are usually limited to a specific set of vehicles based on things like model year, manufacture date, and VIN range.
A recall can be initiated by the manufacturer directly, or in some cases – depending on the outcome of investigations – by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Answers to the most frequently asked questions
- How Do I Find Out If My Car Has Been Recalled?
With more recalls than ever before, it’s hard to keep up with it all. After announcing up to 30% of people ignore safety recalls, NHTSA created an easy, online VIN lookup tool to quickly check your car’s recall status.
- My Car Has Been Recalled, Now What?
Watch for recall notices in the mail and always make sure the manufacturer has your up-to-date mailing address. Once you receive word of a recall, don’t ignore it. Don’t expect an immediate appointment for a repair. And don’t give up. A 2016 study determined that 45 million cars recalled between 2013 and 2015 hadn’t received their repairs. While recalls don’t expire, they do have a limited shelf-life if you want a guaranteed no-cost fix.
- I've Already Paid for Repairs, Can I Get Reimbursed?
The answer, like many things in life – it depends. The process isn’t always simple and often requires a good paper trail on your end. That’s why it’s important to save or scan all documents related to car repairs.