Bumper-to-bumper warranties that come included with your car manufacturer’s warranty can cover repairs or replacements due to factory defects. A vehicle service contract, also known as an extended car warranty, can cover repairs once the car manufacturer’s warranty expires.
Your car manufacturer’s warranty that’s included when you first buy your car is meant to cover any mistakes that the manufacturer made during production. Sometimes those manufacturing mistakes are part of a large car recall.
Let’s take a look at car recalls and what you can do about them.
What is a car recall?
Every car manufacturer has had to do car recalls from time to time, and tens of millions of cars are recalled in the U.S. each year. A car recall happens when the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, NHTSA, and your car manufacturer determine that a car part or a system of parts is going wrong and needs repairs or replacement.
These repairs or replacements are not due to wear and tear but rather due to factory problems.
When a car is recalled, it can sometimes mean the car no longer meets minimum safety standards, so it’s not something you should take lightly. The defects that result in recalls can be due to various things, these include:
- Malfunctioning steering
- Malfunctioning accelerators
- Malfunctioning airbags
- Fuel system leaks
- Wiring and electrical problems that are fire hazards
Sometimes the car recall is due to something very minor that you don’t have to rush to get fixed, but it should be a priority for you no matter what.
Car recall notices are issued by mail.
Are car recalls the same as a car warranty?
A car recall is not the same as a bumper-to-bumper warranty or a powertrain warranty. These are the two types of main car warranties that are included with the purchase of a new vehicle:
- A bumper-to-bumper warranty covers all of the major parts and systems of the car, which includes the suspension, fuel delivery systems, A/C, electrical systems, etc.
- It normally lasts for a period of three years or 36,000 miles
- A powertrain warranty covers fewers repairs and replacements than a bumper-to-bumper warranty but it covers the basic parts that make your car “go”: the engine, the transmission, the driveshaft, differentials and axles.
- It normally lasts for a period of five years or 60,000 miles.
There are no time limits or expiration dates on car recalls. In other words, the manufacturer must cover repairs or replacements (at $0 cost to you) of the defective parts at any time.
If you’d like to know about how a car warranty lasts, read our blog about how long a car warranty should be effective.
What do you do when there’s a car recall?
By law, the car manufacturer has three options to fix the defective part, or systems of parts, that have resulted in a car recall. The car manufacturer can:
- Cover the repair or replacement of the part
- Give you another identical car or a similar model
- Offer you a refund for the purchase price minus some depreciation costs (reduction of the value due to normal wear and tear)
If there’s a car recall, the NHTSA states that the car manufacturer is legally responsible for sending a letter to current car owners. The letter should inform you on how to get the issue fixed, how long it will take and any resources available.
What if I’m not the original car owner?
If you’ve bought a used car, then you’re not the original car purchaser of the car, so it may be a little bit tricky for the car manufacturer to contact you directly through a letter.
If you bought a car through a dealership, then you’re likely registered as the new owner. On the other hand, if you bought your car through a private sale, you may need to check the NHTSA database on your own. Here are the simple steps to take:
- Go to the NHTSA recall page.
- Enter your VIN number (This is the identification code for a specific vehicle. It’s composed of 17 characters that include numbers and capital letters).
If nothing comes up during your search, you can visit your car manufacturer’s website.
You can also contact your local dealership even if you didn’t buy your car from them. They have reliable information regarding your car make and model.
How can I find out about a car recall as soon as it happens?
You can sign up for personalized NHTSA alerts through the NHTSA free SaferCar app. With it, you can get notified when a recall is happening for your specific car make and model. The NHTSA SaferCAr app is available for Android or IOS.
You can also get email alerts about any vehicle that’s experiencing a recall.
What if I already got my car fixed because I didn’t know there was a car recall?
According to the NHTSA, if you already paid to repair a part that’s part of a car recall, you may be able to get a refund for that service. You must contact your local dealership for help.
What if you’re having trouble with car maintenance and repairs that are not related to a car recall?
Every car will eventually experience a breakdown due to wear and tear if it’s not properly maintained. Depending on the car you drive, maintenance can be incredibly expensive over time. You can invest in a car maintenance plan for your car to help you handle these costs. When it comes to big repairs, a car repair protection subscription like Uproar.car’s Vehicle Repair Protection can offer coverage similar to bumper-to-bumper warranties, the most comprehensive repair coverage option available.
Uproar.car has created vehicle breakdown coverage that is simple, trustworthy and affordable. Transforming the extended car warranty marketplace through technology and transparency, Uproar.car offers a full suite of worry-free, no haggle car care plans through low-cost, 100% online, monthly subscriptions that drivers can sign up for in less than five minutes. Get an instant quote today!