All you wanted to know about car recall

By Charles Hopkins Published 05/18/2006 | Auto and Trucks

All you wanted to know about car recall

A new car is expected to work without a squeak. But there are times when new cars, especially new models, may suffer from a manufacturing defect. The defect may be serious enough to pose a threat to the safety of passengers. So what can the buyer do?

The buyer can obviously report the defect to the showroom that sold the car; if nothing happens the buyer can go to the manufacturer.  The buyers case is strengthened if other owners report a similar defect. Then, the defect is treated as more than a simple mechanical problem, and the manufacturer is required to recall the entire batch of cars.

The body that supervises orders for recalls is the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The buyer can file a petition with NHTSA or visit its site and lodge a complaint. The buyer can even call the NHTSA hotline and lodge a complaint. The NHTSA investigates the complaint especially if it has been reported by several car owners and if satisfied that the defect is indeed a manufacturing defect can order a recall.

Some of the defects that can lead to a recall are: faulty wiring that may cause fire, accelerators that may freeze all of a sudden, air bags that refuse to open on time, steering parts that may break during driving leading to loss of control. Defects in accessories like music systems, air conditioners etc are not covered by these. The defect has to be serious enough to warrant NHTSAs attention.

Once it is confirmed that there is a defect in the cars, the Official Safety Recall Notice is sent to the car owners, advising them to take the cars to the dealer for repair. The notice not only lists the defects, but also suggests the required repairs and the names of dealers who are authorized to carry out the repairs. The repair is usually done free of cost.

Normally, a period of 60 days is allowed to the manufacturers to fix the defects. The time taken may also depend on the nature of the problem. For instance, simple faults can be rectified in a day or two days while the complicated ones can take a much longer time.

In case of defects that cant be rectified or that may cost too much, the manufacturer may come forward to replace the car with a similar model. Otherwise, the money is refunded to the customer.

No claims can be made if the car is involved in an accident before the recall occurs. But some compensation may be awarded as a goodwill gesture.

The car recall is also bound by certain government rules. Any car that is more than eight years old is not eligible for a recall. But the owner can get it repaired by paying for it. The manufacturer may also go to court against the recall order of the government and this may take years to get settled. In such cases, it is better to get a paid service.