Car Recall Q & A

Do recall repairs expire?

Car recalls do not technically have an expiration date. However, according to the written notification sent to owners of the vehicles, they are enforceable for a “reasonable period of time.” However, what is deemed “reasonable” is not always defined. A recall is basically over if the vehicle’s manufacturer goes out of business, or if the parts that are needed to make the necessary repair are no longer being made.

How long do you have to get a recall fixed?

When the owner of the vehicle receives notification of the recall, a date is normally given for how long that person has to repair the part covered by the recall. However, under law, owners of the cars are to get these repaired within a reasonable period of time. Many times, however, the owner of the car may not quickly receive a notification, so the date listed on the letter sent out may not be feasible.

Do salvage title vehicles qualify for recalls?

Yes, salvage title vehicles qualify for recalls. A car being salvaged is not a reason for the vehicle manufacturer to deny a recall repair. Under federal law, manufacturers must replace the defective part so long as the car is drivable.

Are recalls free on used cars?

Recall repairs are always covered by the vehicle manufacturer at no charge, even if the person bought the car used. Recalls are considered to be safety issues that seriously affect the car’s performance and could cause an accident or injury to the driver or passenger. Automakers are required by law to issue recalls and perform repairs free of charge for cars that are ten years old or newer, but this also extends to older cars, as well, since many older cars are still operating and on the road.

What does it mean when a car is recalled?

A recall happens when the vehicle manufacturer or the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA) determines that a certain car model has a safety-related defect or does not otherwise comply with federal safety standards. After that is determined, the car manufacturer sends written notification, alerting the owner of the problem and providing instructions regarding getting a free repair. Car manufacturers are required to send written notification and provide the following information:

  • A description of the defect;
  • What type of risks are caused by the defects, including the injuries that can be caused;
  • Possible warning signs that the defect exists;
  • How the car manufacturer intends to fix the problem, including when the repair will be available; and
  • Instructions for what the car owner should do next.

Can you sell a used car with a recall?

Car dealers are prohibited by federal law from selling new cars, trucks or SUVs with recalls that have not been fixed. Similarly, rental car companies are prohibited from renting a car with a known recall that has not been fixed. However, there is not a federal law that bans car dealers from selling used cars that have unaddressed safety recalls. This loophole has led to a lot of debate from safety advocates who say that this puts drivers and others on the road in danger. It is recommended that the purchaser does research on sites like CarFax before purchasing a used vehicle to determine if there are any open recalls on that vehicle.

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