What to do if your car gets recalled

Consumer Reports

(Consumer Reports)—Over the past few months, you might have put off everything from home repairs to doctor’s appointments, and maybe an important safety recall on your car slipped through the cracks. As Consumer Reports explains, now is the time to safely, and promptly get the free fixes your recalled car needs.

Let’s start with the basics: How do you know if your car was recalled in the first place?

“Car companies are required to notify owners by mail, but sometimes they don’t reach the second or third owner. So check the NHTSA for open recalls on your car,” says Consumer Reports Auto Editor Keith Barry.

If you find one, you’re not alone: Tens of millions of cars get recalled every year to correct problems ranging from software glitches to headlight problems to leaks that can cause fires.

“Bottom line: Every recall is important and should be taken seriously,” Barry said.

If the safety defect is serious enough, you might be advised not to drive the car, or to park it outside until it’s fixed.

The good news: In almost every case, recall repairs are free but it is your responsibility to get them done.

“One thing to keep in mind: Consumers are not entitled to a rental car or a loaner. Sometimes a dealership or an automaker will offer one as a courtesy, but it is not required by law.”

And one other important thing to know: Cars can legally be sold even if they have an open recall. So if you’re buying a used car, it’s especially important to run the Vehicle Identification Number through a recall database to be aware of any recalls that need your attention.

If you’re worried about missing a recall, you can sign up for Consumer Reports free car recall tracker to receive an email notification when one is used for your vehicle.

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