What is a car recall?

A vehicle recall occurs when a manufacturer or the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) determines that a car model (or several models) has some a safety-related defect or doesn’t comply with a federal safety standard. The carmaker will alert vehicle owners to the problem and usually offer a free repair on the item in question.

So how will you find out about a recall on your car?

Car companies are required to send letters to all customers affected by a recall. You can also current on vehicle recalls by visiting the NHTSA’s website.

Your recall letter should include the following information:

-A description of the defect
-The risk or hazard posed by the problem (including the types of injuries it can cause)
-Possible warning signs
-How the manufacturer plans to fix the problem including; when the repair will be available and how long it may take for the repair
-Instructions regarding what you should do next

If you get a recall letter in the mail, open it, read it and take action. Some recalls are minor, and other recalls can be more urgent. A recall doesn’t mean something catastrophic will happen to your car, but it does indicate that you need to get your car in for repair as soon as you can. A recall on a tire requires you to have the repair work done within 60 days of getting notification of the recall.

If your vehicle shows up on the NHTSA’s car recall list, all recall-related fixes should be completed at no cost to you. You’ll need to take your vehicle to an authorized dealer because they work directly with the manufacturer. You may already have a dealer you work with, but if you don’t, a quick internet search for your vehicle’s brand will guide you to a local dealer. Make sure to bring your recall letter with you if you have it.

Getting a recall notice on your vehicle doesn’t mean you should panic. However, make sure to read the letter and take immediate action to get the issue fixed.