The Most Surprising Recall Facts You Should Know

Finding out that your car might need to have a recall is enough to stress most car owners out. Whether you’ve casually scrolled through the news and stumbled across a concerning recall notice, or even received one in the mail. As a consumer, there are a lot of things about recalls that can seem confusing, and a quick search on the internet might just give you a bunch of conflicting information. Whether you think your car has an active recall or you know for sure that it does, there are some important things that you should know about recalls.

How to check on recalls

There are several ways that you can get accurate, free information about potential recalls that could affect your car. More traditionally, manufacturers will send a notice to owners that might be affected based on the address that their car is registered at. In this case, there is usually a step-by-step guide on how to proceed, but this isn’t always a great way to get the word out.

The NHTSA has also developed a handy cell phone application. The app is also free, and it provides you with quick and reliable information in regards to active recalls. If you don’t feel like sharing the space on your phone with an app, you can also call the NHTSA for more information. All you need is your cars make, model, year, and VIN.

The word, RECALL, is seen displayed on a smartphone.
The word, RECALL, is seen displayed on a smartphone. | Photo Illustration by Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Recalls cost nothing

The cost of recalls is covered by the manufacturer because it can affect the owner and passenger safety. While this may seem like an obvious fact to some, you may be surprised to hear that it isn’t common knowledge. Having services down on your car to repair or replace pieces covered by a recall doesn’t cost you a dime as a consumer. It does, however, cost you some time, and that can be frustrating.

Since you have to take your car into the dealership to have recall work serviced, this can be a pretty big inconvenience if you live hours away from your nearest dealership. Some places will offer you a rental vehicle while your car is in the shop at no additional cost, but it really depends on each individual location.

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 has connected a VW Passat TDI to a computer used for diagnostics | Marius Becker/picture alliance

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They might not be as bad as it seems

Most recalls refer to specific makes, models, and years, but that doesn’t mean they necessarily apply to every car that fits the description. Chances are there are only a few thousand cars that were produced with the manufacturing defect. If you don’t see any recall information for your car when you check the VIN, it is likely because your car wasn’t affected.

The word recall itself sounds pretty intimidating, but not all recalls are that bad. Some can be as minor as a faulty break light, but some can be more serious. The best thing to do is try to schedule your recall work for as soon as possible, regardless of how serious it sounds.

A deployed airbag is seen in a 2001 Honda Accord
A deployed airbag in a 2001 Honda Accord | Joe Raedle/Getty Images

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Recalls don’t have to be scary and stressful. When you get down to the basic facts about recalls, they are actually pretty simple, and cost nothing but your time. The most important thing is to just stay aware of potential recalls, and to get the service done when you find out you need it.