Millions of people in Ohio may be driving recalled cars without realizing it.
Ready for a terrifying thought?
What if the car you’re driving is a ticking timebomb, and the manufacturer knows it… but you have no idea?
What if you never found out because your urgent vehicle recall by the manufacturer notice was lost in transit, or you mistook it for junk mail?
It happens all the time.
Cars are complicated machines, and it’s easy for something to go wrong. Even though automotive manufacturers are required to test each vehicle extensively before releasing it to the public, it is still entirely possible for problems to arise after the car is in your hands.
Motor vehicle recalls are extremely common. Most of them pertain to an entire line of make-and-model vehicles all at once.
According to Carfax, as of last fall, nearly 60 million cars in active use on U.S. roadways are currently subject to an open recall. That’s greater than one out of every five vehicles in the U.S.
Open recalls happen with old cars and news cars alike, everything from low-end budget vehicles to top-of-the-line luxury sedans. While some recalls are more urgent than others, all of them are important and must be taken seriously.
Vehicle manufacturers have a duty to notify consumers with recall notifications about open recalls affecting their cars. Unfortunately, those notifications frequently end up at the wrong address, or they get chucked in the trash (because they look a lot like sales letters). If you drive a pre-owned car, the notices might still be going to the original owner. And sometimes, the companies simply aren’t diligent in making sure consumers know about pressing dangers.
You should never assume that your car is “A-OK” just because you haven’t heard anything to the contrary. Every driver should be vigilant in routinely checking for open recalls on their cars, trucks, motorcycles, and other vehicles.
In fact, there’s a pretty good chance that your vehicle is subject to one or more open recalls right now.
In the sections that follow, we will explain:
- How to find out if there is a recall on your vehicle
- What to do if there’s a recall on your car
- Your rights in Ohio if there’s a recall on your car
- Your rights in Ohio if you’re injured because of a defective vehicle
Looking into recalls won’t take much time, and generally speaking, getting the defects fixed is easy. Taking a few simple precautions now could save your life later.
How to Find Out if There is a Recall on Your Vehicle
Here’s an easy, step-by-step guide to finding out if your vehicle has open recalls:
- Find your VIN. Every car has a Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). Find it by opening the driver-side car door and looking at the barcode sticker on the side of the door. You can also find your VIN by looking at the bottom corner of your windshield on the driver’s side (you may need to look at the windshield from outside the car). It also appears on your vehicle registration form and auto insurance card.
- Check the NHTSA database. Years ago, drivers had to ask individual manufacturers about open recalls. Fortunately, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has streamlined that process. Simply visit www.nhtsa.gov/recalls and enter your VIN. If there’s an open recall on your car, it will be listed here.
- Check the manufacturer’s website. While the NHTSA database is generally comprehensive, you can also usually find open recalls listed on each major manufacturer’s website.
- Ask your car dealership. Taking your car in for routine maintenance or an oil change? If your mechanic is also a licensed dealer for the manufacturer, he or she should be able to pull up any open recall information on your specific vehicle. They’ll also be able to tell you about any service advisories or software updates that may not rise to the level of a recall but which may nevertheless be advisable.
What to Do If There’s a Recall on Your Car
Recall notices include instructions for consumers about how to get the safety related defects and issue(s) resolved. In most cases, this means bringing your car into an authorized repair provider for a fix.
Not sure where to go? Call the nearest licensed dealership for your vehicle’s manufacturer. Confirm that they have a manufacturer-authorized service department. If so, ask if they know about the recall and whether they are able to make the recommended fix.
Make sure the service provider is able to accommodate you in the near future. If they can’t because they are overbooked, find another approved service provider in your area.
Do not continue to operate any vehicle for which a recalled defect could pose a threat to your health and safety. Some recalls will specify that drivers can continue to use their vehicle as long as they follow certain safety measures. Even then, err on the side of caution.
If necessary, have the vehicle towed into the service provider and rely on a rental car or alternative means of transportation until the defect is resolved. More on that below.
Your Rights in Ohio If There’s a Recall on Your Car
As a consumer, you have certain rights under state and federal law. Generally speaking, the extent of your rights after a recall will depend on the nature of the recall, the age of your vehicle, and whether the recall was imposed by the government or issued voluntarily by the manufacturer.
When a vehicle recall is government-imposed, the manufacturer is typically required to complete repairs within a reasonable period of time and at no cost to the consumer. Manufacturers will usually try to complete voluntary recalls within a similar timeframe.
Still, some drivers find themselves waiting for weeks or months — especially when a recall is so large that it causes a statewide or nationwide shortage of repair parts.
In those cases, it’s a good idea to ask your dealership for a loaner car. Many dealerships maintain a fleet of cars that they loan out to drivers in these situations. Alternatively, they may be able to cover the cost of a rental car while you wait. In some cases, they may also cover the cost of towing your vehicle to the dealership. Some offer local shuttle services as well.
Already paid to repair a defect that was later the subject of a recall? Under certain conditions, you may be entitled to full reimbursement from the manufacturer. Always save your paperwork.
Finally, you should know that under certain circumstances, a vehicle that has been plagued by numerous problems, or for which attempted repairs have been unsuccessful, may be deemed a “lemon” under the Ohio Lemon Law. There’s a lot to know about the Ohio Lemon Law, the details of which are outside the scope of this article. However, if your vehicle has spent a lot of time in the shop (or if the authorized service provider cannot remedy a recall or defect after multiple attempts), it’s a good idea to talk to an experienced lawyer in Ohio about your rights under the Ohio Lemon Law.
Your Rights in Ohio If You’re Injured Because of a Defective Vehicle
Sometimes, a recall comes too late. If you’ve been injured because of a defect or non-conformity in your vehicle, you are entitled to financial compensation for your damages. You may have a claim against the manufacturer under federal and/or Ohio state law.
Recall remedies are available in addition to other available legal remedies. This means you may be entitled to financial recovery under Ohio personal injury law in addition to any of your rights pursuant to the open recall.
Even if the problem with your car has not been the subject of a recall, you may still have a personal injury claim for your injuries. An experienced Ohio car accident lawyer at Colombo Law can help.
Schedule a Cost-Free, No-Obligation Legal Consultation Today
If you have been injured in an auto accident, we encourage you to talk with an Ohio auto accident lawyer at Colombo Law as soon as possible. We have extensive experience in pursuing remedies against manufacturers, insurance providers, negligent drivers, and other responsible parties.
We proudly serve auto accident victims all across the state of Ohio, including: Columbus, Chillicothe, Circleville, Heath, Hebron, Lancaster, New Lexington, Newark, Pataskala, Westerville, and beyond. Contact Colombo Law and schedule a free case review today. To get started, call 888-860-1414 (614-362-7000 in Columbus) or simply contact us online.