Buying a car can be a big decision because there are not only many different options and styles to choose from, but it is a large financial commitment. When a buyer invests in a vehicle, whether it be a new car, used car, or a leased car, there is always the possibility of a recall. A recall means that the car manufacturer is admitting that there is something wrong with the vehicle and that it needs to be replaced in order to ensure proper function and safety.
Who Makes the Recall?
Typically, a recall occurs after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) receives complaints and reports that a particular vehicle is having issues. These issues could be anything from brake problems to navigation system problems. After receiving complaints, the NHTSA typically investigates and determines whether the complaints are due to a legitimate defect.
A defect is discovered when the vehicle’s equipment, causing the problems, does not comply with the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. Vehicles have to meet minimum performance standards that are set for all parts of a vehicle.
Defects are problems that affect the safety of the operation of the vehicle. For example, faulty brakes, headlights, tires, airbags, and engines are all features in a vehicle that are necessary to ensure safe functioning.
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However, defects could also be classified as non-safety related problems. Non-safety related defects include problems like malfunctioning radios and navigation systems, faulty heat and air conditioning, body rust, and excessive oil intake.
What If My Vehicle Was Recalled?
The first thing that happens when a particular vehicle is determined to have a recall is that the car company will send out a notification in the mail. The letter will state that the owner has a vehicle that has been recalled, it will describe the defect, warn the owner of any safety risks or warning signs to look out for, state how the manufacturer will repair the defect, and how and when to take care of the recall.
Recalls are problems that are unfortunately imposed onto the vehicle owner, but the manufacturer bears the burden of paying for the repair of the defect. If the vehicle is on the recall list that is produced by the NHTSA and the owner of all the recalled vehicles are notified, the owner must take the vehicle to an authorized dealership to get it fixed. If the authorized dealership does not adequately repair the recall on the vehicle, the owner can seek help from the NHTSA, who oversees the recall process and ensures compliance by the manufacturers.
In some cases, the car manufacturer that has a recalled vehicle, can opt out of repairing the vehicles and instead replace or refund the owners of the recalled vehicles. In the case of replacement, this is not unusual when the defect cannot be repaired. The manufacturer will provide the vehicles’ owners with a car that is either identical or similar in model to the owner’s recalled vehicle. The manufacturer may choose to simply refund the owner of a recalled vehicle with the purchase price of the vehicle minus any reasonable costs of depreciation. In most cases, recalls are on parts of vehicles that are less expensive to repair or replace than replacing the entire vehicle or refunding the owners.
For those seeking to purchase a used vehicle, you should always look into whether the vehicle has any current recalls, as that could affect the safety and function of it. If the vehicle is used and is over 10 years old, it may no longer qualify to be repaired for free if there is a recall.
Getting Help for your Lemon
If you have a vehicle that is defective, you have a lemon car. If you have a lemon car, you may want to reach out to a California lemon law attorney to see what your rights and options are. The attorneys at our office are equipped to handle all sorts of lemon law issues, including manufacturers fighting back against lemon law claims. Call our office today to speak with an attorney who can help.