Vehicle Recalls: As Drivers, Are We Scared?

When a well-known car company makes the news for a recall, many of us take notice; think of the giant GM recall of 2014. Recalls are meant to protect millions of drivers from being injured or killed on the road. Car makers are obligated to provide top-of-the-line safety and if they don’t, they must let the public know. News of a recall can incite panic and helplessness, but reports suggest that drivers and dealers aren’t affected by recalls as much as we would think.

How Serious are Vehicle Recalls?

When a vehicle fails to function properly for any reason, your safety on the road may be compromised. For example, if your car has been recalled due to a braking error or an airbag failure, these defects could be responsible for injury or death and should be taken very seriously, requiring immediate action. However, if you have a recalled vehicle with tail light or windshield wiper issues, you may be less likely to take serious or quick action.

Whether you perceive that the recall is serious and life threatening or just a minor inconvenience, it’s up to you as the driver to get the issue fixed or resolved. Even a recalled taillight could cause an accident, particularly if another driver doesn’t know if you are planning to stop or make a turn at an intersection. Remember, seemingly minor accidents can still have fatal results. So while you, as a driver, may not see the recall as a serious concern, it’s important that you consider additional problems that could occur if you don’t heed to warnings.

How Will I Know if My Car is in Danger?

Unfortunately, when there is a mechanical defect or error related to a vehicle’s safety, we may not hear about it until it makes the news. By the time it reached us, we are faced with grim details and overwhelming information. Thankfully, not every recall results in tragic deaths or injury. Like any other recall, the are released with frequency and as soon as possible. As a driver, it’s important to pay attention to the news and make a habit of checking for recalls from time to time. Some drivers will do this when performing a scheduled maintenance or prior to taking a long trip. However you choose to check recalls, be consistent and chose a method that you will remember.

What If I Suspect My Car Has a Defect?

It can be particularly difficult to determine whether or not your car has a defect that could be part of a larger recall. However, as with all vehicle issues, you should contact a trusted mechanic, have the issue fixed, and ask for his or her opinion. Should you report the issue or file a complaint with the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA)? It may not hurt, but it’s good to ask for professional advice.

It’s easy to get caught up in the “hype” of vehicle recalls, but do your research and try to make a decision based on facts from trusted sources. While the chances of being killed due to mechanical error are less than other factors, you should take all recalls seriously. Stay calm, make an appointment to have your car checked by a mechanic or at your dealership, and avoid driving until you’re “in the clear”.