It seems like virtually every motor vehicle manufacturer has recalls these days.  It is estimated that approximately 30% of all vehicle owners don’t take care of recalls.  It can be a major nuisance, but it is something that you should deal with as quickly as possible once you receive notice of the recall.

That said, it took me a long time to deal with recalls on my mother-in-law’s 2010 Toyota Corolla.  The reason of course is time and it’s a nuisance to have to drive from Hyde Park to Heritage Toyota in South Burlington and leave the car off for the day.  I was finally able to do it when I had an all-day mediation conference in Burlington.  It required that I arrive at Heritage Toyota prior to 9:00 A.M. and catch their shuttle service to downtown Burlington.  The mediation ended sooner than I thought, so I decided to walk from Battery Street to Heritage Toyota on Shelburne Road.  There were sidewalks the whole way and you get to see different things when you walk places as opposed to when you are in a car or even on a bike so it was a nice walk.

In any event, safety recalls of cars and trucks is serious business.  The most serious example is the Takata airbag recall.  Because Takata sells to many automakers, potentially faulty bags could be in as many as 42 million vehicles sold by the major automakers.  The problem is the bags inflate explosively without warning, blasting shrapnel through the steering wheel or dashboard covers and impaling the vehicle’s occupants.  The fault is linked to at least 11 deaths in the United States.

Most recalls aren’t so drastic.  They can deal with such things as the infamous Toyota sudden acceleration recall as well as minor electrical, emission and other types of problems.

Recalls shouldn’t cost you any money.  It is important to take care of recalls particularly if you are selling your vehicle.  Any vehicle recalls will show up on a carfax report.  Obviously, you want the recall taken care of so a prospective buyer knows she or he doesn’t have to deal with the recall in the future.

t’s easy to lose track as to the status of a recall on your vehicle.  Again, with respect to my mother-in-law’s Corolla, I received several recalls over the course of two years.  I knew I should have taken care of them right away, but I didn’t.  I did notice that there was an expiration date, which prompted me to finally make an appointment and deal with it.

Automakers have websites with their own recall-tracking pages.  However, you can call a dealer and provide them with a VIN to check the status of any recalls.  In addition, there are government sites summarizing vehicle recalls at safercar.gov and nhtsa.gov/recalls#vehicle.

There are additional reasons why you should take care of recalls sooner rather than later.  As noted above, I ignored the advice that I am giving here, but there is a possibility that your insurance company could refuse to pay a claim if you didn’t respond to a recall notice and take care of the defect in your vehicle.  There is fine print in the legalese of most insurance policies giving them an out if in fact you don’t take care of a recall that you are aware of.  The argument I would make in response to that is that unless the defect contributed to the crash, the insurance carrier should not be able to deny a claim merely because a recall is outstanding.  But why give an insurance company another excuse to not pay?

Here is another reason why I should have taken care of those recalls sooner.  If you don’t get the recall work done, and if your unrepaired vehicle is a safety risk, and because of that you cause a crash and injure other people or damage other vehicles, you could be held responsible and there is always the chance that your insurance company could deny responsibility.

And this is something to be concerned about when you are shopping for a used car.  It is prudent to check the automakers and government websites for recalls before you decide on buying a particular vehicle.  As noted above, carfax should indicate any recalls, but carfax isn’t completely reliable.

Therefore, I am publicly stating that in the future I will take care of recalls within 60 days of receiving a notice if possible, and not be negligent like I have been in the past.