Don’t Let Recall Fatigue Jeopardize Your Safety

2014 has already seen a record number of auto safety recalls, and the year isn’t over yet.  As of last month, automakers had issued safety recalls for a record-high 56 million vehicles. According to the Detroit Free Press, that’s three times more autos than U.S. consumers are expected to purchase for all of 2014. In October alone, automakers issued 29 safety recalls, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).  Last week the agency also issued a special consumer advisory to 7.8 million U.S. consumers, alerting them that they should take “immediate action” to have potentially faulty airbags replaced.

With new safety recalls being announced so frequently, many consumers are falling victim to “recall fatigue”, and have begun to ignore the announcements.  Not being vigilant about your vehicle’s safety, however, can have costly – or even deadly consequences.

Here are some things you can do to make sure your car or truck is safe.

If you own a vehicle that is subject to a safety recall, the manufacturer is required to notify you of the action via U.S. mail.  Automakers are required to include the words “Safety Recall Notice” in large type.  The notice must also include the NHTSA emblem, and include instructions on how to have the recall problem fixed.  In most cases, that means taking the vehicle to a local dealer to have the defective part or parts repaired or replaced at no charge.

Dealers are typically extremely accommodating despite the fact that the customers do not pay for recall repairs.  According to a recent Reuters article, dealers see recalls as an opportunity to market their maintenance services, and new vehicles to customers who might otherwise never have visited their service centers.

Worried that you may have missed a recall letter?  The NHTSA website features a Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) lookup feature that allows owners to see whether or not their vehicle has been included in any recall actions.  Since the VIN is the only information required to search the database, this is also a great way to find out if a used vehicle you’re considering buying has been involved in a recall action in the past.  You can also sign up to receive automated email alerts of any future recall actions for up to five vehicles.

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