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What are the Most Common Reasons for a Car Recall?

By Alicia Sparks
Updated Feb 19, 2024
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The most common reasons for a car recall deal with defects that affect how the car, or its various parts, function. Some of these defects might cause car safety issues, such as those related to the vehicle’s engine or transmission. Other defects might deal with how certain features function. These less serious recalls often include features like automatic door locks and speaker system wiring. Owners can learn about a car recall and how to repair a defective car through the manufacturer, dealership, or a governing organization.

Serious reasons for a car recall deal with any part or function of the vehicle that relates to how the vehicle operates as well as the driver’s ability to operate the vehicle. In other words, if the car or product recall is due to a car safety issue, it’s a serious recall. To get an idea of the potential danger related to a particular car recall, the owner can think about the function of the recalled part. For example, most under-the-hood product recalls such as those dealing with engines, transmissions, and batteries are serious. Of course, owners should also watch for any product recall that deals with a car part that isn’t under the hood but can still make driving conditions dangerous such as steering columns, headlights, tires, and safety belts and child safety restraints.

Every car recall is intended to repair the defective car and return it to the condition it was in, or was supposed to be in, when the owner bought it. Still, not all recalls happen because the parts have become dangerous. Typically, these kinds of recalls include features that are unnecessary to the safe operation of the car. Examples might include a problem with the automatic sun or moon roof, issues with the glove compartment’s lock feature, and the heated seats’ ability to work. These issues are annoying and don’t deliver what the car’s price tag promised, but they typically aren’t necessary for overall safety.

A vehicle manufacturer will let dealers, owners, and the general public know about a car recall. Typically, the manufacturer will personally notify the dealers and owners with letters, telephone calls, or E-mail. Other ways to learn about a car recall include local and national news reports, websites dedicated to reporting car recalls, and governing organizations charged with keeping the public informed on car safety issues. In the United States, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is one such governing organization. These announcements should also include information about where and how the vehicle owner can have the defective car repaired.

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