As consumers, we expect the vehicles we purchase or lease to have been tested thoroughly and passed all required safety assessments. However, defects do happen. When an automaker becomes aware of a safety defect, the law requires that they report the issue to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) as soon as possible, announce a recall, and notify all customers impacted by the recall. Automakers usually have a fix for the defect and urge affected customers to take their vehicles to the dealership for the repairs at no cost to the consumer. However, what happens when your vehicle is recalled, but no repair is available? Unfortunately, many people across the country are stuck in a concerning position where they are hesitant to use their car or truck but do not know when they will be able to resolve the issue. Let’s take a look at what you can do if you find yourself in this situation.
Understanding the Auto Safety Recall Process
First, it’s important to understand how the recall process works. When an automaker receives a high volume of warranting claims or complaints from drivers, they will look into the matter. Factories manufacturing the vehicle may also uncover a defect during the assembly process. If the automaker identifies an issue, it must report the defect to the NHTSA and announce a safety recall detailing the makes and models impacted by this matter. In some cases, the NHTSA will launch its own investigation in response to complaints from members of the public. Automakers who fail to report a known defect in a timely manner risk legal penalties, such as steep fines. Once a safety defect has been identified, affected customers will receive a safety recall notice informing them of the issue. If a repair is available, you can schedule a trip to your nearest dealer to obtain the replacement part. Federal law requires all safety recall repairs to be offered free of charge on vehicles up to 15 years old.
Delays Between the Recall Announcement and the Repair
As the law requires automakers to launch a recall as soon as a defect is discovered, many customers receive the safety recall notice with no proposed fix. This conundrum happens when there is a lack or shortage of parts, especially in recent years with massive global supply chain issues. Electric vehicle owners may experience delays due to the limited number of battery suppliers that struggle to keep up with the number of parts needed to replace defective technology. Affected customers are left waiting for these replacement parts, knowing that driving their vehicles in the meantime may jeopardize their safety.
Exploring Your Options While Waiting For a Repair
If you’ve received a safety recall notice without information about an available replacement part or fix, it’s natural to feel confused and even anxious about your situation. While some recalls involve minor issues that do not pose a significant safety concern, others may involve major threats to your safety, such as engines combusting or increased risk of collision. Here are some steps you can take if you’re still waiting for a recall repair to become available.
Reach Out to the Local Dealership
If your safety recall notice indicates that your vehicle is unsafe to drive, call your local dealership to request a loaner car. Some recall notices provide information about alternative transportation, but it’s worth contacting your dealership either way. Automakers can authorize payment to the dealership for lending vehicles to affected customers, so there’s no harm in requesting a temporary car while you wait for the recall repair to become available.
Contact the Auto Manufacturer
If you want more information about the recall, you can call the manufacturer directly to determine when you can expect the parts to arrive and how long the repair might take. Many affected customers do not realize that they can speak directly with the manufacturer—in many cases, these companies can work with individual customers to arrange accommodations.
Consider Asking the Dealership to Repurchase the Vehicle
For vehicles experiencing severe safety defects, you may want to consider asking the dealership to repurchase the vehicle. However, it’s important to recognize that dealerships vary in how they handle these requests. Starting the conversation with dealerships in your area will at least give you a better idea of what your options are.
Enlist the Guidance of a Trusted California Attorney
Navigating safety recall matters can be confusing and overwhelming. However, you do not have to go through this difficult process alone. Enlisting the assistance of a knowledgeable lemon law attorney is the best way to ensure you understand your options. Your attorney will answer your questions, address your concerns, and help you identify the best course of action.
If you need help understanding your legal rights regarding a vehicle safety recall, call Lemon Law Partners LLP at (510) 944-0336 to schedule a free case consultation with a skilled and friendly Berkeley attorney.