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What to Do When Your Car is Part of a Recall

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On January 10th, General Motors Co. announced it was recalling about 370,000 of its redesigned 2014 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickup trucks due to a software malfunction that can cause parts of the exhaust to heat up and result in fire. A week after the recall was announced, a Houston resident’s Chevy Silverado did burst into flames. Allen Paul, the truck’s owner, said he received the recall notice 30 minutes before the vehicle’s front end burned.

It was unfortunate that the vehicle was engulfed in flames immediately after the recall notice was received. This incident proves that recall notices are issued for a reason and that it is important to take such notices seriously. Find out what you should do when your vehicle is part of a recall.

Don’t ignore recall notices

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), one in every four car owners do not bring their vehicle in for recall work. Don’t be indifferent to recall notices. They are given to immediately and promptly address auto defects. If you ignore the notice, you are putting your life—and the lives of potential passengers—in danger. Get the problem fixed as soon as possible to ensure safety.

Pay attention to what is indicated in the notice

In the recall notice, you will know what repairs should be done and which dealers will do the repairs. Drive your car to one of the specified dealers as soon as you can. Auto makers have 60 days to address the problem, and that time period begins after the date indicated on the Official Safety Recall Notice.

60 days seem like a long time, but don’t delay—the length of time required for auto work depends on the kind of repair needed. If the defects being addressed are electronic or those involving the engine or transmission, the auto maker needs all 60 days to make your car safe again.

Be proactive

Manufacturers inform consumers about auto recalls by standard mail or by phone. In some cases, the consumer will be alerted regarding the recall electronically (if the consumer has an online account with the dealer) or through the vehicle’s onboard communication system. If you find out about your car being a subject of a recall campaign in the news and have yet to hear from the manufacturer, contact the manufacturer or your local dealership. Give them your VIN (vehicle identification number) so they can confirm if your vehicle is indeed part of the recall. You also have the option to call the Auto Safety Hotline of the NHTSA or visit the NHTSA website, where you will find recall information as early as 1966.

If you are not the car’s original owner and you found out about the recall, contact the manufacturer and inform them that you now own the vehicle. You may contact the manufacturer’s customer service department by calling the toll-free number found in the owner’s manual. If you purchased the car without the owner’s manual, visit the manufacturer’s website to get their customer service number. You need to contact the manufacturer so they can have your name, address and your car’s VIN on their database.

Know that you may still qualify for recalls that have happened prior to your purchase of the used car. A consumer is qualified for no-charge recalls up to 8 years from the original sale date of the automobile.

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