When a car is recalled for a defective part, it can leave owners in a lurch. It can also leave them feeling uncertain. Do you really need to get the part replaced? Can you see your own mechanic? And how long will you be without a car?
Usually, the reason for a car recall revolves around the discovery of a safety defect in the vehicle. The most recent example is the recall by General Motors of all Chevrolet Bolt electric vehicles nationwide. Although the car manufacturer was responsible for another recall that consisted of 69,000 older Bolts, this current recall has added an additional 73,000 Bolts with the model years between 2019 and 2022 to the number of defective vehicles created by the manufacturer. To date, the plant which manufacturers the Chevy Bolt is still shut down because the country is facing a battery shortage, which means drivers could be without their cars indefinitely.
Why are Chevrolet Bolt electric vehicles being recalled?
The Chevrolet Bolt recall was for a defect in the batteries. All electric vehicles operate based on lithium ion batteries. These batteries have defects that can cause the vehicle to catch fire if not resolved. Initially, the car manufacturer issued a recall on the electric vehicles in November, claiming the manufacturing defect was caused by a South Korean factory run by the company’s battery supplier, LG Chemical Solution.
Another investigation, however, showed that the defect was actually in the battery modules. The defect caused a short in a cell, triggering a fire.
How do you know if your car has been recalled?
There are two entities that have an obligation to notify all drivers of car recalls: the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the car manufacturer. If either the NHTSA or the car manufacturer have determined that a vehicle or parts of a vehicle pose a safety risk or fail to meet the required motor vehicle safety standards, either one of these organizations have the responsibility of issuing a car recall.
How do these two organizations determine if a car has been recalled?
When determining whether a car should be recalled or not, the NHTSA investigates defects that can present a danger to the safety of drivers. Some examples of safety defects can include leaky fuel systems, improperly deployed airbags, wiring issues that can create a fire hazard, accelerators that stick or can malfunction, and car jacks that can collapse.
Once the NHTSA has discovered a defect, it is up to the car manufacturer to file a report with all information related to the defect involved. The general information included in the report consists of a description of the vehicle or part of the vehicle that has been discovered as defective, a description of the defective issue, what led to the decision to recall, an explanation of the solution, and the schedule for the recall.
How will I be notified of the recall?
Once the NHTSA has discovered that a car must be recalled and the car manufacturer has filed a report following the discovery of the recall, the car manufacturers have a mandatory responsibility to inform all registered owners of the vehicles about the car recall within a time period of 60 days.
This notification usually takes place by first class mail; because of this fact, it is important to keep all personal information updated through motor vehicle offices. However, the NHTSA also provides drivers the opportunity to search for recalls through their online tools. To begin searching, the driver just needs to provide the vehicle identification number.
The car manufacturer will provide instructions in the letter that will guide owners on how to resolve the issue with their vehicle, how long the repair on the vehicle will take, and who to contact in case there are additional issues when trying to repair the car. The letter will also inform the driver or owner of the vehicle that the issue will be resolved at no additional charge.
What if there is no recall notice?
It is rare, but sometimes there is no recall notice. If you are the only owner who did not receive one, then it’s likely an issue with the mail, though it could be a record problem with the dealership. If no one received a recall notice, then the manufacturer is in violation of regulations. That is an entirely different issue – one which could lead to significant problems and lawsuits for the manufacturer along the way.
Are recalled cars replaced for free?
The main priority for all parties involved is fixing the car. By law, the manufacturer can offer three options to help car owners resolve the defective issue: repair, replacement, and refund. As stated in the letter, the manufacturer can decide to repair the car or part of the car at no cost to you. If the manufacturer decides that the issue cannot be fixed, the manufacturer can offer you another vehicle that is either identical or similar to your vehicle.
Last but not least, the manufacturer can decide to refund you the purchase price of your car. The same options can be applied for car parts. If you have also started to pay for repairs on your car, the car manufacturer can also refund you for the cost of service.
Do older cars get recalled?
Sometimes. Once a car is 15 years old, manufacturers don’t have to offer to fix the cars for free, so they may not issue a recall. Even if they do, they are under no obligation to repair, replace, or refund you for your purchase once that 15 year mark has passed.
What are some additional actions I can take after my car is recalled?
If you suspect your car is operating in an unsafe manner, you can take matters into your own hands and contact either the manufacturer or the service center immediately. Depending on the number of owners who contact the manufacturing company, it may prompt the NHTSA to conduct an investigation. You could help save lives by reporting the issue.
If you have sustained a serious injury because of an automotive defect, the experienced Huntsville product liability lawyers at Martin & Helms are here to fight for your right to recover compensation. You are welcome to call us at 256-539-1990 or complete the contact form to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case. We maintain another office in Decatur, and also serve injured clients in Madison, Athens, and throughout the Tennessee Valley.