Think your car may be involved in a manufacturer recall? Here's what you need to do.
- Step 1: Know your rights. If a recalled part causes an accident, your car's liability or collision insurance will cover you, and you may get your deductible back. If you suffered injuries due to an accident caused by the defect before a recall was issued, you may be entitled to damages. Consult an attorney.
- FACT: In February 2010, Toyota estimated that a series of auto recalls involving accelerators that stick, brakes, and a possible problem in the electronic throttle control could cost $2 billion dollars -- $1.1 billion for repairs and $770 to $880 million in lost sales.
- TIP: If you already fixed the problem before you knew a recall was involved, you may be eligible for reimbursement. Check the NHTSA website for details.
- Step 2: If you need a repair, take your car to any dealer that sells or sold your model; they are required by law to fix your vehicle at no charge -- unless your car is more than 10 years old, in which case you are responsible for the repair.
- Step 3: Don't want to wait for a letter? Call the Vehicle Safety Hotline at 888-327-4236 or 800-424-9393; visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website at nhtsa.dot.gov, or contact your car's manufacturer. Have your VIN handy.
- TIP: Not all vehicles of the same make, model, and year are necessarily involved in a recall; the problem could involve a feature your car doesn't have.
- Step 4: If you heard about the auto recall on the news, don't run to your dealer's service department; they may not yet have the information and parts they need to fix the problem. If your car is affected, you will receive a letter in the mail explaining the defect, how long it will take to be fixed, and whether or not it's dangerous to drive the car in the meantime.