If You Have a Problem with a Recall Repair
A significant defect can make your car unsafe to drive. If your car or car equipment is recalled, you have the right to a free recall remedy. Manufacturers are required to repair, replace, or refund your car or equipment free of charge and in a reasonable amount of time. However, as with many things that are free, getting your car fixed can take some time. Here are some steps to take if you run into any difficulties, courtesy of the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Your Recall Remedy Rights
Understanding your rights during a recall is important. Federal law gives you the right to a free recall remedy. You don't have to pay for it, and the manufacturer should contact you with directions for fixing your car or equipment. This means that you should receive a letter in the mail informing you about the recall, your remedy, and when and how to get your car or equipment fixed.
Note that while your recall remedy is free, the manufacturer generally decides what your remedy will be. Federal law requires that your car's safety concerns be addressed, but doesn't give you a choice of remedies. If a recall promises to repair your car or replace a piece of equipment, you don't have a right to insist on a full refund instead.
Contact Your Dealership's Service Department
Your local dealership is the first point of contact during a recall. Most manufacturers will administer a recall through the service departments at their dealerships, as they are well equipped to repair or replace their own vehicles. When you receive a letter notifying you of a recall, it should ordinarily direct you to your local dealership.
If you run into difficulties with your dealer's service department, first speak to the service manager. Customer satisfaction is important to car dealerships, and most managers will want to uphold their reputation and service ratings. Also, it's worth remembering that recalls can seriously swamp a service department's schedule. Being patient and polite while inquiring about your car's repair can go a long way to aiding your cause.
Contact the Manufacturer
Ultimately, the manufacturer is responsible for a recall. If you encounter problems that cannot be addressed by your dealership, you should contact the manufacturer for assistance. The letter notifying you of the recall should provide a toll-free number you can call. The manufacturer's contact information can also be obtained online, from your car owner' manual, or from the dealership. The manufacturer will generally want to sort out any problems in the recall process and can work with the dealership to fix any miscommunications or problems.
Contact the NHTSA
The NHTSA is the federal agency responsible for car safety and recalls. If you run into problems during a recall, and your dealership or manufacturer cannot help, you can always file a complaint with the NHTSA. The NHTSA monitors recalls and works closely with manufacturers to ensure safety issues are addressed. The agency may be able to resolve your issue, or else put you in touch with someone who can.