How to Know If Your Car Has Been Recalled | YourMechanic Advice

How to Know If Your Car Has Been Recalled

Car recalls can be annoying. They require you to take time off of work, get in line at the dealership, and sit around while your car is getting fixed. And if the repair takes a few days, you’ll have figure out transportation alternatives.

Some recalls are pretty minor. In mid-March 2016, Maserati recalled more than 28,000 cars sold between 2014-16 because of faulty floor mat anchors.

Other recalls are serious. In 2014, GM recalled 30 million cars worldwide due to faulty ignition switches. By GM’s own count, 128 people were killed in accidents related to the switches.

The recall process

In 1966, the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act was enacted. It gave the Department of Transportation the authority to force manufacturers to recall vehicles or other equipment that did not meet federal safety standards. In the ensuing 50 years:

  • 390 million cars, trucks, buses, motorhomes, motorcycles, scooters, and mopeds have been recalled in the US alone

  • 46 million tires have been recalled

  • 42 million child safety seats have been recalled

To illustrate how rough some years have been for vehicle manufacturers and consumers, in 2014, 64 million cars were recalled at the same time that only 16.5 million vehicles were sold.

What causes recalls?

Car manufacturers assemble cars using parts made from many suppliers. If there is a major failure of a part, the car (or cars) is recalled. As an example, in 2015 the air bag manufacturer, Takata, recalled 34 million air bags that the company supplied to nearly two dozen car and truck manufacturers. When deployed, the air bags were found, at times, to shoot shrapnel inflator parts. Some of the recalled air bag models dated as far back as 2001.

It was the responsibility of the vehicle manufacturers to issue the recall and do the repairs for the cars and trucks that were equipped with the Takata air bags.

Choosing a safe car to buy

iSeeCars.com is a website for buyers and sellers of new and used cars. The company conducted a survey of the history of cars sold over the past 36 years, and the recall histories since 1985.

The survey concluded that Mercedes is the least-recalled car. And the manufacturer with the worst recall-to-sales ratio? According to the survey, Hyundai has had the worst ratio of cars recalled, 1.15, for every car sold since 1986.

Other companies on the list with the most recalls are Mitsubishi, Volkswagen, and Volvo, each of which has recalled one car for every one sold over the last 30 years.

Recall notification

If you purchased your car, either new or used, from a dealer, they will have your VIN, and contact information on file. If there’s a recall, the manufacturer will contact you by mail or phone, and provide instructions on how you’re to get the car fixed.

Recall letters sometimes come with some form of the phrase “Important Safety Recall Information” printed on the front of the envelope, making it look like a piece of junk mail. It’s a good idea to resist the temptation to play Carnac the Magnificent, and actually open the letter.

The letter will explain the recall, and what you’re to do. Most likely, you’ll be instructed to contact your local dealer to get your car fixed. Keep in mind, you’re not the only one in your area who has received a recall notice so it’s best to contact the dealer immediately, and make an appointment to get your car repaired.

If you hear about the recall on the news, but you’re not sure if your car is affected, you can contact your local dealer who will look up your VIN. Or you can call the Auto Safety Hotline of the National Traffic Safety Administration 1-888-327-4236.

You can also visit your vehicle manufacturer’s website for up-to-date news on recalls. You may be asked to enter your VIN to ensure accuracy.

Who pays for recall repairs

Car manufacturers are only on the hook to pay for repairs for eight years from the date of the car’s original sale. If there is a recall eight years after the original sale, the repair bill is on you. Also, if you are proactive and fix a problem prior to the official announcement of a recall you could be out of luck trying to get reimbursement.

However, some companies, such as Chrysler, have reimbursed customers whose vehicles malfunctioned due to a not yet announced recall.

What you should do if you get a recall letter

If you see something in the mail that resembles a car recall notice, open it to see what it says. You’ll need to decide for yourself how serious the suggested repair is. If you think it’s serious, call your local dealer to book an appointment.

Ask how long it will take to make the repair. If it’s going to take a full day, ask for a free courtesy car or shuttle ride to and from work or home.

If you get wind of a recall before it’s announced by the manufacturer and you choose to get the work done beforehand, ask the dealer who is going to be responsible for the repair bill. In all likelihood it will be the owner.

Ten most recalled cars

  • Chevy Cruze
  • Toyota RAV4
  • Jeep Grand Cherokee
  • Dodge Ram 1500
  • Jeep Wrangler
  • Hyundai Sonata
  • Toyota Camry
  • Chrysler Town & Country
  • Dodge Grand Caravan
  • Nissan Altima

Next Step

Schedule Oil Change

The most popular service booked by readers of this article is Oil Change. YourMechanic’s technicians bring the dealership to you by performing this job at your home or office 7-days a week between 7AM-9PM. We currently cover over 2,000 cities and have 100k+ 5-star reviews... LEARN MORE

SEE PRICING & SCHEDULING

The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details

Recent Oil Change reviews

Excellent Rating


YourMechanic Oil Change Service

Average Rating

4.9/5

Number of Reviews

20,442

Rating Summary
19,168
828
169
84
193
19,168
828
169
84
193

Jimmi

26 years of experience
90 reviews
Jimmi
26 years of experience
Chevrolet Venture - Oil Change - Orlando, Florida
Mr. Jimmi Phillips is a true professional. Finally, found a mechanic who is not only knowledgeable but who understands that his profession is not work but an avocation. Jimmi provides expert service that allows one to feel most confident in the work being provided. Quality, value, integrity, and service best describes Mr. Phillips.
Honda Accord - Oil Change - Orlando, Florida
Showed up a little ahead of time. Fixed my idling problem and gave advice if there were future problems with it. I'm happy.

Johnathon

8 years of experience
89 reviews
Johnathon
8 years of experience
Lexus ES350 - Oil Change - Fresno, California
We love Jonathan. He is knowledgeable, professional, trustworthy, and did a terrific job. Thank you.

Joe

14 years of experience
408 reviews
Joe
14 years of experience
Nissan Altima - Oil Change - Antioch, Tennessee
I have booked Joe several times at this point and I feel he is very knowledgeable and patient when explaining needed repairs to me. He communicates well and has a pleasant manner and disposition. I have never felt that he would suggest a service that was not needed, which has not always been the case when I used to take my car to a dealership for service.

Michael

21 years of experience
49 reviews
Michael
21 years of experience
Audi A4 - Oil Change - Las Vegas, Nevada
Michael arrived a little early and was very professional. He finished the service quickly but was unable to reset the "service due" indicator on the dash.

Need Help With Your Car?

Our certified mobile mechanics make house calls in over 2,000 U.S. cities. Fast, free online quotes for your car repair.

GET A QUOTE

Related articles

Top Automotive News & Stories: July 20-26
Each week we compile the best announcements and developments from the world of cars. Here are the topics you can’t miss from July 20 to 26. Regulators Abandon 54.5 MPG Target In 2011, the...
Top 10 Car Recalls in History
Car recalls are issued by manufacturers as a preventative and safety measure. Toyota's sticking gas pedals has led to the biggest recall in history.
Top Automotive News & Stories: October 1-7
BMW i5 images leak, an ultra-lux Jeep, hydrogen-fueled Colorado ZH2, Fisker's electric future, record plug-in sales, NHTSA Road to Zero, and more.

Related questions

cycling humming/buzing noise on highways 65-80 mph

Hey there. There may be a recall on your vehicle to reprogram the transmission control module on the vehicle. The noise may be from the transmission CVT. Have the dealer check for any recalls on the CVT or any other...

Car revved & lurched over curb while foot was on brake

Hey there, hopefully everyone was safe after this experience. My suggestion would be to have the vehicle towed to the nearest dealer to have the vehicle checked. There has been many possible complaints for this problem with other owners and...

Engine misfiring on cylinders 2, 4, or 6

Hello. There is a possible recall for the ignition control module on your vehicle. You will need to contact a GM dealer and see if your vehicle is on the recall list for the recall [03v231000](http://www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/owners/SearchResults?searchType=ID&targetCategory=R&searchCriteria.nhtsa_ids=03V231000) ignition control module failure....

How can we help?

Our service team is available 7 days a week, Monday - Friday from 6 AM to 5 PM PST, Saturday - Sunday 7 AM - 4 PM PST.

1 (855) 347-2779 · hi@yourmechanic.com