What are vehicle recalls?

Most consumers are not aware that there may be a safety or emissions recall for their vehicle. At CarMD, we provide you free access to this information and even include it every time you run a vehicle report.

There are two types of vehicle recalls – emissions and safety. Under most circumstances, vehicle recall repairs can be completed at no charge to the customer.

Safety Recall

The National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act gives the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) the authority to issue vehicle safety standards and to require manufacturers to recall vehicles that have safety-related defects or do not meet Federal safety standards.

Manufacturers voluntarily initiate many of these recalls, while others are either influenced by NHTSA investigations or via the courts. If a safety defect is discovered, the manufacturer must notify NHTSA, as well as vehicle or equipment owners, dealers, and distributors. The manufacturer is then required to remedy the problem at no charge to the owner.

There is an age limitation for getting safety recall repairs done, though. To be eligible for a free remedy, your vehicle cannot be more than 10 years old on the date the defect or noncompliance is determined. Under the law, the age of the vehicle is calculated from the date of sale to the first purchaser.

Emission Recall

Vehicle manufacturers are required to design and build their vehicles to meet emissions standards. Under the Clean Air Act, if the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) determines that a substantial number of vehicles in a class or category do not meet emissions standards, it can require the manufacturer to recall and fix the affected vehicles to make sure they are not polluting the environment.

The manufacturer usually conducts emissions-related recalls and remedies voluntarily, although the EPA has the authority to order a manufacturer to recall and fix non-complying vehicles. These emissions-related recalls may or may not be paid for by the manufacturer.

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