Everything You Need to Know About Auto Safety Recalls in California

Safety Recall Vehicle raised on lift at maintenance station

As consumers, we have the right to expect that the products we purchase will operate safely and as advertised. We trust that the items we buy, whether it be a stereo system or a large truck, have passed some basic safety checks to ensure that they are free from defective components or other potential hazards. Unfortunately, errors made during the production, manufacturing, or assembling process can jeopardize the product’s safety. When such defects occur in new vehicles, these oversights can lead to chronic issues or even increase the risk of collision. If you have struggled with a recurring problem in your vehicle’s braking system, steering column, engine, transmission, or other components, you have the right to report the defect to the manufacturer and to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Whenever a vehicle manufacturer or the NHTSA identifies a safety risk or defect in a particular make and model, a recall notice will be issued and mailed to the consumers who will be impacted by the recall. The recall notice will provide details about the defect and instruct consumers to make an appointment at their local dealership to obtain the recommended recall repair free of charge. While many customers are able to secure the recommended recall repairs smoothly and effectively, others may face challenges during this process. If you have been unable to receive the recall repair, or if you are struggling with recurring issues in your vehicle that have not been able to be resolved after numerous attempts to do so, reach out to a dedicated and trusted Berkeley Lemon Law attorney to discuss your options. This post will provide an overview of the auto safety recall process and some tips to help you feel safe behind the wheel once more.

Reporting a Vehicle Recall in California

Most vehicle-related recalls begin with customers. When a driver experiences an issue with one of their vehicle’s operating systems, such as the engine or brakes, they may report the problem to the manufacturer. They also have the option to file a complaint with the NHTSA. Once several reports have emerged, the manufacturer may launch an investigation into the issue to determine whether it stems from a manufacturing error or other defect. Should a problem be uncovered, the manufacturer will then issue a voluntary recall to notify consumers of the defect and urge them to obtain the recommended replacement part or repair. Sometimes, the manufacturer does not act quickly enough. The NHTSA may open an investigation into a potential defect and then ask the manufacturer to issue a “voluntary” recall—even if the manufacturer was under pressure by the NHTSA to do so. Either way, customers affected by the recall should receive a recall notice that tells them about the defect and provides instructions for securing the necessary repairs.

Common Issues During the Auto Recall Process

Many customers are able to take their vehicles to the dealership for the recommended repairs within a reasonable amount of time. Under California’s Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act, also known as California’s “lemon law,” consumers have the right to obtain the recommended recall repairs from the dealer or manufacturer at no charge. The recall repair process does not always work perfectly for affected customers. Let’s explore some of the most common issues that may arise during the recall process in California.

The Recall Repair is Not Available

When a customer receives a letter informing them of a vehicle safety recall that affects their car, SUV, or truck, they should also receive instructions to visit their local dealer for the recommended recall repair. However, some customers contact the dealer and find that the replacement parts are not yet available or that the dealer is awaiting clear instructions from the manufacturer about how to repair the recalled vehicles. If you know that other customers have successfully obtained the recall repair at another dealership, or if you are having trouble securing the recall repair in a reasonable time frame, it’s best to enlist the guidance of an experienced Berkeley lemon law attorney who can help you identify the most strategic path forward.

The Dealership is Making You Pay For the Recall Repair

Federal law requires that safety recall repairs be provided to affected customers at no cost to the consumer. This law applies to all vehicles that are 15 years old and younger. However, many automakers will provide free recall repairs to customers, even if their vehicles are over 15 years old. If you know that your car is within the 15-year window and the dealership is trying to charge you for the required recall repair, you should contact the manufacturer and enlist the help of a lemon law attorney who can advocate on your behalf.

Other Remedies Under California Lemon Law

It can be extremely frustrating to struggle with a persistent defect in your new or gently used car. Instead of relying on your vehicle to reliably transport you to and from work, you are now spending too much time in the repair shop as you wait for a lasting solution to a recurring problem. Even if there is no official auto safety recall campaign that addresses the issue you are facing, it’s important to recognize that you may be entitled to other remedies under California’s lemon law. Depending on the specifics of your situation, you may be able to receive a replacement vehicle or a refund from the manufacturer if it’s determined that your car or truck is defective. The best way to understand your options is to discuss the details of your case with a seasoned and caring Berkeley Lemon Law attorney. Together, you can identify the most appropriate path forward that allows you to feel safe on the road once more.

If you are struggling with a defective car or truck, you may be entitled to receive a refund or a replacement vehicle. Reach out to Lemon Law Partners, LLP, today at (510) 944-0336 to schedule a free case evaluation with a dedicated and friendly Berkeley lemon law attorney.

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