4 Steps to Take if Your Vehicle Is Involved in an Unfixable Car Recall, According to Consumer Reports

Automakers issue recalls for their vehicles when defects are confirmed that impact car safety. Learning that your car has been recalled is frustrating, but usually, resolving the problem is as simple as taking your vehicle to the dealership. That’s because manufacturers are required to fix recall issues free of charge to owners. However, what happens if the automaker does not yet have a fix for a recall issue? Learning that your vehicle has been recalled without a solution in sight can be intimidating, but Consumer Reports offers four steps to follow if this happens.

1. Contact the dealership where you bought the recalled car

Consumer Reports states that it is important to advocate for yourself if your vehicle has been recalled without an announced fix. The first step that Consumer Reports suggests is to call your car dealership about the issue. If the recall on your car makes your car unsafe to drive, you can ask the dealership for a loaner car until fixes become available. Loaner vehicles may be available for drivers affected by the recall, which will help ease transportation issues until there is a fix.

It is also important to remember that all recalls are different, and some are more severe than others. Some recalls will not require you to stop driving your car, so carefully read the recall notice.

2. Contact the vehicle manufacturer

A U.K. car safety recall notification letter sent by mail
A car safety recall notification letter | Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

If your vehicle is unsafe to drive and the dealership fails to help you, the next step is to elevate the issue by contacting the automaker. You can often find manufacturer numbers on the recall notice, and if not, it is also typically available in your owner’s manual. Ask the representative from the manufacturer for updates on the recall. If the slow fix has to do with a lack of availability of parts, inquire about a potential timeline for repairs to start. 

Manufacturers do not want unhappy customers, so they will likely work with you to give you a temporary solution to hold you over until your car’s issue can be addressed. If the dealer was uncooperative, this might mean organizing a loaner car for you. 

3. Request a buyback from the dealership

Sometimes, car recalls take a long time to address, and if you have been waiting with no end in sight, asking your dealership if they will buy back your vehicle may be the correct step. Doing this will give you money to purchase a functioning car, and it also sends a message that you have grown dissatisfied with the automaker’s handling of the recall. 

This is another step where it becomes necessary to remember that some recalls are more severe than others. If it is minor and the car can still be driven safely, this step may not be applicable, especially if it’s a car you like. Meanwhile, if the notice is severe and has rendered your vehicle undrivable, this may be a step to consider.

4. Speak with an attorney

The final step that Consumer Reports recommends will likely get the attention of a manufacturer if nothing else has worked: lawyer up. This may seem like a harsh response, but if you have gone a significant amount of time with no fix for your recalled vehicle, legal action is perfectly justified. 

In addition to taking legal action against a manufacturer that is slow to respond to a recall, Consumer Reports also recommends filing a complaint with the NHTSA about the company’s lack of action. This is another step that adds pressure and pushes the company to respond productively.

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