Even though we’re living in an age of instant communication, it’s interesting to note that vehicle recall notices are always sent by mail, and 1.7 million more have recently been sent out by Hyundai.

As a car owner, it’s something you never want to hear: Your car has been recalled. In the past couple of years, these notices have become all too common. In 2015, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) noted a record-breaking 51.2 million vehicles involved in 868 separate recalls.

Officials say there are a few reasons why so many recalls are occurring. First, regulators are cracking down on safety defects, and the automakers themselves are becoming more proactive when it comes to finding and reporting problems. Regardless of what prompted the recall, car owners should be aware of vehicle recalls and know what steps need to be taken to fix problems.

Whistle-Blower Prompts Recall

United States safety regulators have officially opened a formal investigation focusing on nearly 1.7 million cars produced by the South Korean Hyundai Motor Co. and its affiliate, Kia Motor Corp. The investigation was prompted after a whistle-blower, a 26-year veteran engineer working for the carmaker, accused Hyundai of hiding dangerous engine defects in some cars and SUVs.

According to hundreds of leaked internal documents, the most severe of the multiple defects can lead to engine stalling, which can increase the risk of a car accident.

According to information submitted to NHTSA, defective vehicles may make a knocking sound when the driver accelerates. The whistle-blower said he believes the engine problem is not just due to the manufacturing process, but rather, the engine design itself. If this turns out to be true, the automaker will have to fix the problem, and it won’t be cheap. According to Hyundai, defective engines will be replaced, and the carmaker said it has already started the process of finding and replacing engines that are found to be defective.

The following vehicles have been recalled:

  • 2013-14 Hyundai Santa Fe SUV
  • 2013 and 2014 Hyundai Sonata
  • 2011-14 Kia Optima car
  • 2011-13 Kia Sportage SUV
  • 2012-14 Kia’s Sorento SUV

These are in addition to the 470,000 cars Hyundai recalled 18 months ago for costly engine block replacements and the 1.2 million that Hyundai and Kia issued recalls for just over a year ago with similar engine problems.

Never Ignore a Recall Notice

Even though it may take up a lot of your time, you should never ignore a recall notice. It’s important to note that car companies do not use today’s technology to communicate with owners; they send notices in the mail.

If you have moved and not updated your address with the dealer where you purchased your car, you may not receive a recall notice. That doesn’t mean you can’t check on the recall to see if it does involve your particular vehicle. You can always go to www.safercar.gov to find out if your car has ever been recalled.

In order to search for recalls, you’ll need your VIN, or vehicle identification number. The Edmunds.com website has a page that lets you look up recalls and other important information. Just enter basic vehicle information and it will produce a report on the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule, as well as any recalls or technical service bulletins that have been issued for your vehicle.

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