How many of you have received a vehicle recall notice in the mail? How many of you paid attention to it and scheduled an appointment with a dealership? If you have received a recall notice but ignored it, you’re not alone — but that shouldn’t give you much comfort.
The Dangers of Ignoring Recall Notices
According to industry experts, you should never ignore a recall notice, whether it’s for a life-threatening problem, such as an airbag issue, or something less important. In a CNBC.com article, Carroll Lachnit, consumer advice editor for Edmunds.com, said this about receiving a recall notice:
Open it, read it and understand what the recall is. Use your common sense a little bit, and if you read the letter, you will be able to understand the level of risk involved.
Millions of Recall Notices, Many for Colorado Vehicles
According to Consumer Reports, a nonprofit organization that tests thousands of products each year for safety and quality, there were 62 million vehicle recalls in 2014 in the United States. Some of the recalls were for defective ignition switches and faulty airbags, which together were said to be responsible for more than 100 deaths. Thinking of purchasing a used car? Colorado ranks second for used cars up for sale that are also under an active recall.
Consumer Reports, questioning why there have been so many recalls, concluded:
[C]armakers have been asleep at the drawing board or assembly line. […] Several big manufacturers have certainly made defective vehicles in the past and in some cases tried to cover it up. However, the resulting publicity has turned a harsh spotlight on the problem and created an expectation of safer cars. Take a public that’s ready to complain — and often willing to sue — plus a more aggressive federal government and you end up with record-breaking recalls.
Don’t Remember Getting a Recall Notice?
One reason why some drivers don’t act on recalls is that they never got the message in the first place. While most of us use technology to communicate and to get our news, car companies send recall notices via the U.S. Post Office. If a driver has moved and hasn’t updated the address on file with the dealership where the car was purchased, it’s more than likely that the driver won’t receive the notice.
Another reason for a lack of action is something Consumer Reports refers to as “recall fatigue.” CR notes that consumers do not respond to notices promptly because there are so many, an unintended consequence of more pressure on automakers to correct problems or potential problems.
Checking for Recalls Online
Edmunds.com notes there are several links you can click on to see if any issues have prompted a recall notice on their car:
- Each vehicle has a unique vehicle identification number (VIN), and through that VIN, you can check on recalls for your vehicle. Specifically, you can use the VIN Look-up Tool on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s
- com also has a recall guide that allows you to put in information on your car and it will show maintenance schedules, recalls and technical service bulletins.
So, the bottom line is if you get a recall notice in the mail, don’t ignore it. It could be to repair issues that could cause a car accident, even a fatal one. If you have never received a notice, it only takes a few seconds to check on current or past recalls just to make sure you’re in the clear.