Can You Drive Your Car With a Recall?

The word recall strikes fear into the hearts of many drivers. Whether it is something trivial or something potentially deadly, recalls are made when driver or passenger safety is at risk due to a manufacturing defect. There are so many ways to be notified that your car is under recall, and thankfully the manufacturers are responsible for eating the cost of any needed repairs or replacements. If you don’t live close to an authorized dealer, however, or you have a busy schedule, making time to take your car in for recall work can be a total hassle. Just because your car is under recall doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to stop driving it, though.

Notice of recall

The most standard way to receive notice of recall is through the mail. Typically, the manufacturer will send you a notice in the mail to the address that the vehicle is currently registered to. These notices contain all of the instructions you need for the next steps in your recall, but this isn’t the only way to get information.

If you hear about a recall before receiving a formal notice, you can contact the NHTSA safety hotline and get information on your specific vehicle by providing the VIN. The NHTSA has also been developing an app to help consumers better track recalls. Most manufacturers also have a recall portal and provide a free service.

Chrysler Group LLC announced it is recalling 867,795 Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge Durango sport-utility vehicles to install a shield to protect brake boosters from water corrosion | Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Safety concerns

When it comes to your average recall, it is important to understand exactly what the problem is. While you can continue to drive your car until you are able to bring it in to have the recall work serviced, it isn’t recommended by the manufacturer or the NHTSA. However, not all recalls are created equally, and that means some are more dangerous than others. The safest way to ensure you and your family are in the most reliable vehicle possible is to get the recall serviced as soon as possible.

Car recall
Car recall | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

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That might not be realistic for all drivers

While it is always ideal to have work done on your car immediately, that isn’t always realistic for car owners. Busy schedules with the additional stress of potentially needing to take time off work or even traveling a distance to the nearest car dealership can make getting recall work a hassle. Depending on the type of recall work being done and what dealership you have to service your vehicle, you may have the option for a loaner vehicle, making things a little more convenient.

Car repair shop manager Marc Oliver Dahl has connected a VW Passat TDI to a computer used for diagnostics in the Nouvertne Volkswagen car dealership in Solingen, Germany, 04 March 2016. Photo: MARIUS BECKER/dpa | usage worldwide (Photo by Marius Becker/picture alliance via Getty Images)
Car repair shop manager Marc Oliver Dahl has connected a VW Passat TDI to a computer used for diagnostics in the Nouvertne Volkswagen car dealership in Solingen, Germany | Marius Becker/picture alliance, Getty Images

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Recall work can sound stressful, but don’t let the word alone stress you out too much. Once you’ve verified that your car is under an active recall, the best course of action is to take it in for service as soon as you can