Dealing with Vehicle Recalls

Our cars play a fairly important role in our daily life.  Other than our flat or house they are probably the largest purchase most of us make. When we buy any car,routine maintenance is one of the expenses we willingly undertake when buying a car and we hope to escape major repairs. We also hope to avoid the dreaded manufacturer recall.

However if you do receive a recall notice here is some information to help you understand the recall and how to deal with it.


Types of recalls

A car manufacturer’s reputation is one of its most important assets.  To maintain their reputation, most manufacturers pay keen attention to how their vehicles perform.  When a problem is discovered they may issue a recall.

There are two main types of recalls:

Service measures – This is not technically a recall but rather a repair or maintenance item that is performed during a regular vehicle service appointment.  A service measure typically deals with software upgrades or minor parts replacement and adjustments that are designed to increase the vehicle’s performance or to avoid customer inconvenience.  In most cases owners are not informed about the need for service measures and repair shops will simply perform them at your next appointment (at no charge to you.)

Safety recalls – If a manufacturer discovers that a defect poses a safety risk a recall can be issued. In these types of recalls the carmaker will attempt to contact every owner of the affected vehicles and arrange for the repair to be completed.  Recall repairs are always made at no cost to the vehicle owner. If a repair shop insists that a charge is due you should contact the manufacturer’s UK headquarters or your local Trading Standards office.

Recalls which are reported in the media can be somewhat alarming and a bit misleading.  Vehicle manufacturers keep meticulous records on the assembly of each vehicle. Often a recall will apply to only a small number of vehicles in a particular company’s line.

A large number of recalls are precautionary as well, so unless instructed otherwise there is no reason to avoid driving your car.  However, you should have your car serviced as soon as possible.

There are several reasons for taking your vehicle in as soon as possible after receiving a recall notification.  Many times the service window is active for only a fixed period of time. Failing to have the service performed within the allotted time means that you have to pay for the repairs.  Not having the service performed can have an impact on your safety and will negatively affect your vehicle’s resale value.

If your registered keeper’s details are correct you will usually find out about a recall from the manufacturer.  If you want to check if your car has a recall notice you can perform a Vehicle Safety Recall search at the Motor Ombudsman. The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency also has a recall checker tool.