Tips, Tricks & Trends

What to Consider When Buying a Car That Might Need Recall Work

We can’t overstate how important it is to keep reliability and maintenance costs in mind when car buying. As you’re shopping for a new or used car to purchase, you’re likely to see vehicles with recall notices on them. Car recalls are relatively common, but at the same time, you’ll want to take these notices seriously. Here are some key items to consider while you’re car shopping as it relates to recall notices.

First, what are recalls?

Big car recalls are determined by either the manufacturer itself or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The carmaker or the NHTSA will determine if a model has a safety-related issue or defect that does not meet federal safety guidelines. A recall doesn’t necessarily mean that you are an immediate danger or that the car you recently purchased needs to be replaced.

Even though a recall doesn’t mean you are in automatic danger, you should take the notice seriously and try to get the issue resolved as soon as possible.  It’s also important to note that you should also consider open recalls when you are looking at car rentals too. The NHTSA is a great resource when checking for recalls.

What to do if the new car you want has an open recall 

It’s actually not hard to buy a new car that has an open recall on it. You can make a request to your car dealer that the issues be fixed before purchasing the car so the problem doesn’t fall on you later. The recall repairs should be fixed at no cost to you. 

Fixing open problems is ultimately up to the new car dealer you are working with. If there are multiple recall issues on the new model you are interested in, we don’t recommend buying the car in question. Numerous recalls will impact the new car’s overall reliability over time. What’s currently happening with the  Ford F-150s, is a good example of this.

What to do if the used car you want has an open recall

When it comes to buying a used car that has an open recall on it, things are a little trickier. Unlike new car dealers, used car dealers and private sellers are not obligated to make recall repairs on their vehicles or even inform potential buyers of the recall issues. 

To protect yourself in situations like these, do your homework on the used car you are thinking of buying to see if there have been any recall issues associated with the model. For the specific used car you are interested in, you will want to obtain the vehicle identification number on the vehicle and submit it to safercar.gov to check for possible recall issues.

The VIN number can usually be found on the windshield on the driver’s side. If you are shopping for a used car online, many dealers now include the VIN number in the car description. You’ll also want to ask the dealer if they typically fix recalls on their vehicles. Doing your research and asking the right questions will help protect you against recall issues.