Today’s new automobiles are technological marvels which usually deliver a high degree of safety and reliability – until you’re on the receiving end of the dreaded recall notice. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration almost 18 million vehicles were affected in 2012 by more than 650 safety recalls.
Although you’ve got to spend your time to take your car into the dealership, it’s on their dime to correct the defect at no charge to you. Generally, a recall shouldn’t affect your car insurance rates. Below are some facts to keep in mind about auto recalls and how they may impact your insurance rates. Be aware, if you own a vehicle that is more than eight years old, it cannot be recalled. However, if a problem is identified, it should be corrected — you’ll just have to pay for it yourself.
The Crash Test Safety Factor
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) publishes a yearly list of vehicles that have been tested for several types of impact safety. They assign a grade to each vehicle, usually given as a “five-star” rating, five being the best. A vehicle’s safety rating is an important consideration that insurance companies use to determine premiums and a higher crash-test safety rating may result in lower rates.
Don’t Ignore Recalls
If you toss that recall notice in the trash and don’t have the problem corrected, and have an accident, it may affect your insurance rates or even result in a claim denial if it’s proven you neglected to correct known safety issues with your vehicle that contributed to an accident.
After the problem is corrected, it’s a good idea to provide your insurance company with paperwork documenting that the necessary vehicle repairs have been made. If you’re involved in an accident because of a faulty part that has been recalled, your insurance company can settle the cost with the manufacturer.
Your car’s value is something that’s used to determine its insurance cost. If a recall is widespread and the issue can’t be corrected, it could have a negative impact on the market value of the vehicle. You should check with your insurance company – it’s possible you may be able to decrease your insurance rates, since your car’s value has been reduced.
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration – Stay Informed
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) plans to require automakers and motorcycle manufacturers to provide consumers with a free online tool that will enable them to search recall information by Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) starting next year.
Consumers will be able to instantly determine whether action is required to address an uncompleted safety recall that affects their personal vehicle, as identified by their unique VIN. While several automakers already offer this feature, those who do not, will have until next year (8/14/14) to comply with the final rule.
This new search feature will also be available on the nation’s only official automotive safety website www.safercar.gov. Currently, consumers are limited to general searches by vehicle make and model year on the NHTSA website. With the new VIN search feature, consumers will be able to tell whether a specific vehicle is subject to a recall and whether the vehicle has received the remedy.
What are the most common types of defects in these recalls?
The NHTSA lists the following as typical safety-threatening defects:
- Wiring or leaks that cause fire
- Accelerators that break or freeze suddenly
- Steering parts that break, causing a loss of control
- Air bags that deploy late or for no reason
How long does the recall process take?
Manufacturers are given 60 days to attend to owners’ needs after a defect is announced. This time starts from the date written on the Official Safety Recall Notice, not from the day the recall is announced. If you didn’t buy your car from the manufacturer or a dealer and bought it from an individual, you are still entitled to free repairs from the manufacturer.
If you have any concerns about vehicle safety, contact the NHTSA. Established by the Highway Safety Act of 1970, they are dedicated to achieving the highest standards of excellence in motor vehicle and highway safety.