Vehicle Recall Basics
Used car shopping is fraught with many difficulties and in some cases…danger. While car recalls are a normal part of automotive design and manufacturing, not all glitches are equal. In fact, some glitches are quite dangerous and never get repaired.
A recall is initiated when a car manufacturer or the NHTSA becomes aware of a defect in a component or material, or when there is a discovered problem in the car’s performance or construction that results in a new vehicle failing to meet minimum safety standards.
When there is a recall, the manufacturer is obligated to inform all registered vehicle owners of the affected cars---typically through a mailed notification within 60 days of the recall going into effect. The manufacturer is then required to cover the repair or replace the faulty part(s) or offer a refund. Rarely will the owner be refunded for the entire vehicle.
However, one of the problems with recalls is that as many as 20-30% of all vehicles with a recall have not been serviced or repaired. In addition, while recalls are reportedly for the life of a vehicle regardless of whether you are the original owner or the buyer of a used vehicle with a recall, there are cases in which timelines have been placed on the recall issue.
Inordinate frame rusting issues are one example among some models and manufacturers. And, even if the recall still applies, a car owner (whether original or a used car buyer) might have to pay some repair costs after a set number of years following the original recall notification.
A further problem is when a dealership gives the recalled vehicle owner the run-around or other repair delay techniques to avoid fixing or replacing a component in a recall until the part has actually failed. In other cases, car owners are reporting difficulty in finding a dealership to take care of the infamous Takata airbag ignitor problem where premature airbag deployment could result. The problem lies in a shortage of enough parts to cover all vehicles involved in the recall, which has led to a prioritization of repairing vehicles only in states with high temperatures and/or humidity.
Used Vehicles Search Focus
As has been recommended in earlier articles, one of the factors used car shoppers should focus on is limiting their search as much as possible to those models with proven reliability. Therefore, it makes sense to extend this is to a recall history search to find out whether there were any recalls; and if so, to what extent. Remember, since 20-30% of all vehicles under a recall are never serviced or repaired, there is a good chance of buying a used car with a potential ticking time bomb that you will want to avoid.
That said, here is a recent posting by the Your Advocate Alliance YouTube channel that reveals what they consider having been the top 4 worst recalls that you will want to know about and avoid when used car shopping, one of which is still going on today.
The recalls include:
• Faulty ignition switch turning off, killing in the engine while in traffic and turning off the airbag system.
• Automatic transmissions that slip out of park into reverse while engine is running.
• Stuck gas pedals.
• Exploding airbags.
Top 4 Worst Car Recalls EVER | You Won't Believe THIS
Fortunately, researching a vehicle’s history is relatively simple: Just go to the NHTSA recall webpage and enter the VIN of the used car you are considering. The NHTSA search will let you know if any recalls are associated with the model you are querying and what type of recall is involved. However, be forewarned that the site does not report as whether any recall related repairs were performed on the particular vehicle; and, that there is 15-calendar year limit to the search.
For additional related information about used car shopping, here are a few selected articles for your consideration:
Timothy Boyer is a Torque News automotive reporter based in Cincinnati. Experienced with early car restorations, he regularly restores older vehicles with engine modifications for improved performance. Follow Tim on Twitter at @TimBoyerWrites for daily new and used vehicle news.
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