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Are recall car repairs always free?

mechanic checking car

GM recently announced the recall of every Chevy Bolt due to the fire risk of its high-voltage battery.

When recalls happen, the manufacturer (in this case, GM, which owns Chevrolet) must always make itself responsible for the repair. A vehicle service contract (also known as an extended car warranty) is not designed to cover recall car repairs. 

Recall repairs are always free and never expire. If you’re the owner of a Chevy Bolt or wondering if your car has a recall, here are a few things you should know.

When is a recall necessary?

A recall is necessary when a car manufacturer or the NHTSA (the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) determines that a car, equipment, seats or tires pose a safety risk or fail minimum safety standards.

During a recall, manufacturers are required by law to fix the issue for car owners through car repairs, replacement parts, a refund or, sometimes, the repurchasing of the car.

Want to know about the most reliable cars on the road today? Read our blog on the best cars by breakdowns.

How do I know if my car has a recall?

The manufacturer is required to notify you if there’s a recall in writing by sending you a letter in the mail. 

Pro tip: To be sure you always receive car recall letters, make sure your registration is up-to-date with your current mailing address.

How come recalls are always free and never expire?

The NHTSA monitors the safety of cars on the road. The Safety Act and other federal regulations are in place to protect car owners. 

When there is a recall, the manufacturer must fix the problem without charging you any fees and it doesn’t matter if you’ve had the car for many years or what condition it’s in. 

There are only two exceptions when the manufacturer won’t cover the repair: 1) If the manufacturer goes out of business or 2) if such a long time has passed, that the parts needed to fix the safety issue are no longer available.

What should I do if my car has a recall?

As soon as you find out about the car recall, you should contact the manufacturer’s local dealership to get it fixed as soon as possible. It’s a safety issue that can’t wait!

The manufacturer has three options:

  • Repair the car
  • Replace the car
  • Refund you the purchase price (minus depreciation)

If you had the problem fixed prior to the nationwide recall, you may be able to get a refund for the cost of service. You should get in contact with the manufacturer.

What if I have a vehicle service contract?

Vehicle service contracts provide protection from expensive repairs. Since, by law,recalls are an issue that must be dealt with by the original manufacturer at no cost to you, you won’t use your vehicle service contract for that repair. An aftermarket warranty for used cars keeps your budget under control by covering all other major repairs not related to a manufacturer recall.

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