What is a Safety Recall on a Car?

William Mattar Glossary
Posted: October 6, 2022

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration administered over 1,000 safety recalls affecting 35 million vehicles and other equipment in 2021. 

Every vehicle recall is serious and can potentially affect the safety of you and your passengers. That’s why it’s generally important to take immediate action when notified of a safety defect and contact your local dealership to schedule repairs as soon as you can. 

What is a Recall on a Vehicle? 

According to NHTSA, a recall is necessary when a motor vehicle or item of motor vehicle equipment does not comply with a Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard or there is a safety-related defect in the vehicle or equipment. The U.S. Code for Motor Vehicle Safety defines a defect as “any defect in performance, construction, a component, or material of a motor vehicle or motor vehicle equipment.”  

NHTSA says that a safety defect exists when motor vehicle equipment, or the motor vehicle itself, poses an unreasonable risk to motor vehicle safety, and “may exist in a group of vehicles of the same design or manufacture, or items of equipment of the same type and manufacture.”  

Numerous defects can serve as a basis for such recalls. Those related to a vehicle’s engine, transmission, tires, steering column, airbags, seat belts, and safety restraints are just a few. Since technological advancements are becoming progressively complex, many safety features are increasingly dependent on them. A higher number of mishaps can potentially result from even the slightest of technical flaws.  

What Happens When There’s a Recall on Your Car? 

Manufacturers are required to send a notification letter to any customers who are affected by a recall through the mail. This letter will generally include, among other information, a description of the safety defect and direction on what the vehicle owner should do next to.  Once a safety-defect determination is made, the law gives the manufacturer three options for correcting the defect:    

  • Repair the vehicle at no charge 
  • Replace the vehicle with an identical or similar vehicle 
  • Refund the purchase price in full, minus a reasonable allowance for depreciation    

 In the case of equipment, the manufacturer may either repair or replace the faulty equipment at no charge or refund the purchase price.  

How Might a Car Recall Affect Car Insurance?  

A car recall shouldn’t generally affect insurance rates. If the vehicle owner puts off getting the vehicle fixed or ignores a recall notice, resulting in an accident, that could affect car insurance, according to some sources 

How to Stay Up to Date on Vehicle Recalls  

Although the percentage of accidents due to vehicle recalls may seem insignificant compared to other causes like speeding and driver inattention, casting the spotlight on this problem should not be taken lightly. Being proactive and staying informed about recalls involving your vehicle is a course of action for those looking to stay safe on the roads.  

The U.S. Department of Transportation offers an updated record of vehicle recalls. You can search the NHTSA website for recalls by manufacturer, recall date, type, description, and many other categories. 

Hurt in a Recalled Car? Call William Mattar, P.C. 

If you were injured in a car crash stemming from a defect in a recalled vehicle, we may be able to help. The experienced motor vehicle accident attorneys at William Mattar, P.C. can review your case and help determine your options moving forward.  You can contact us 24/7 by submitting a contact form online, or by calling (844) 444-4444.     

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