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What to do if your car is recalled

Why you’re getting a vehicle recall notice - and why it matters.

Woman standing by a mailbox looking at her mail

How many recalls happen each year?

A record 53.2 million vehicles were recalled in 2016, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Recalls cover a wide range of items, including tires, brakes, air bags and wiring.

How will I be notified of a recall?

Manufacturers are required to notify all affected dealers and vehicle owners. That correspondence offers clear steps, including whether or not you should immediately stop driving the vehicle. The letter tells you who to contact - typically it’s a dealership - about repair. The recall notice will also tell you about costs. If your vehicle is more than 10 years old, you may have to pay for repairs yourself.

State registration lists help manufacturers identify current vehicle owners, so it’s important to keep your paperwork current. You can also register a vehicle purchase with a manufacturer, which offers yet another way to reach you.

I’ve heard about a recall but haven’t received anything. Can I look up the details?

Recall notifications are sent to the last vehicle owner of record, and these records can be out of date. If you haven’t received a recall notice - perhaps you recently purchased a used vehicle - most manufacturers offer an online tool to look up current recalls, based on make and model. It is worthwhile to periodically check for safety recalls by your vehicle identification number (VIN) or sign up for email notifications at either or

I don’t have time to deal with a recall. Do I have to?

Some people ignore recall notices, but a vehicle under a recall may be unsafe to drive. And, if you try to sell it, the unrepaired recall will show up in the vehicle’s history. If you get a recall notice, contact your dealer as soon as possible to schedule a fix.

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