Rights of an Owner of a Recalled Vehicle
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Rights of an Owner of a Recalled Vehicle

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Every years, millions of products are recalled for various reasons. Recalls affect the very smallest of items such as children’s toys to large objects such as vehicles. When a product is recalled, it is usually due to some safety concern. Knowing the rights associated with recalled items can help consumers.

Who Issues Automotive Recalls?

The Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is the department that sets the standard of vehicles, and the makers of vehicles must follow the guidelines that NHTSA sets. If a vehicle does not meet a certain criteria or is found to be defective, then the makers of the vehicles must issue a recall. The car companies usually recall a vehicle of their own accord, but there are occasions where NHTSA has to prompt the car company to issue a recall. The car companies have the responsibility to inform NHTSA, dealerships, owners and distributors. The manufacturer is to repair the problem that the vehicle has, and the owner does not have to pay for this service. The NHTSA will keep track to ensure that the manufacturer is in compliance of the recall. 

The Issued Recall

The registered owner of a vehicle will be notified by mail that there is a recall on the vehicle. The manufacturer must inform the vehicle owners of the risk of the vehicle recall. The notice that informs the registered owner of the recall provides an explanation of the need for the recall and what action the owner should take. The explanation should specify what exactly the issue is, how long it will take to repair the problem and who is able to work on resolving the issue. Information is available for the vehicle owner about what individual to contact if the recall requires payment by the owner instead of a free resolution. 

Vehicle Owner’s Rights 

A vehicle must usually not be more than ten years old when the recall was issued to be eligible for the vehicle to be repaired with no cost to the owner. For example, if a recall was issued in the year 2016, the vehicles between the year 2007 and 2016 are to be repaired for free if the vehicle was purchased as new. If a car had a recall on it and is older than ten years, it is up to the owner to get the vehicle repaired at their own expense. It is highly recommended that they do so, as a defect may cause major problems if not repaired. It is better to fix the problem than let the issue become one that causes an accident.

If the manufacturer and the NHTSA disagree about a problem with a vehicle, the manufacturer may petition the court for a resolution. When this occurs, the manufacturer does not have to repair the vehicle while the case is in court. On the condition a vehicle owner resolves the problem and the case ruling is for NHTSA, the owner is entitled a refund of their money on the repairs to the vehicle. The vehicle owner must have documentation to obtain refunded funds on vehicle repairs. It is strongly recommended to keep all paperwork on all vehicle repairs. 

If the car dealership does not fix the recall issue and the owner has the documentation for the recall of the vehicle, the manufacturer should be alerted at once. The vehicle is to be repaired free of charge within a certain time frame. 

The manufacturer of the vehicle is permitted time to find a solution to the problem on the vehicle. The vehicle owner has no legal standing with a recall if the manufacturer is complying with the issue but only needs time to find the solution to the problem. The automobile manufacturer may alert the owner of any action regarding the recall. 

Seek a Lawyer

Safety is a top priority with automobile recalls. There should not be any issues impeding safety when driving. When vehicles have been recalled for defects, and then injuries occurred, it is best to contact a legal representative immediately. A knowledgeable lawyer needs to be contacted and informed of all issues that have occurred. Documentation should be provided to the legal expert, and if any witnesses are available, they may be contacted to describe their perspective. The manufacturer should be contacted to see if a solution can be determined.


Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer. For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.


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