Car recalls: Confusing and chaotic

Car recall notices create confusion for consumers, many of whom have countless questions. They wonder if they should take the risk and still get behind the wheel, the potential dangers surrounding the notice, any financial impact, and how they will get to work.

Recalls are common. Millions upon millions of motor vehicles are recalled for various reasons that range from software problems to serious safety defects that can put drivers at risk.

Who is responsible?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) became a part of the U.S. Department of Transportation in 1966. The agency has been responsible for safety recalls that can create serious risks or they don’t meet specific safety standards. A majority of them are initiated by automakers mandated to disclose or face the possibility of fines. It is their responsibility to cover all costs related to the defect.

Automakers identify specific problems after warranty claims, complaints from dealers or drivers, or an outside party such as a factory worker or supplier identifies a problem. In those scenarios, factories document the building process to narrow down the part’s installation date and the specific vehicle that does not meet standards.

Whether a car can be driven while the recall is in effect is subject to the specific language and direction in the recall notice. There are few recalls that have “do not drive” warnings that consumers should adhere to or travel at their own peril. Simply put, an order not to drive is just that. The vehicle should remain parked.

Recent recalls have gone so far as ordering owners to park their vehicles outside and far away from garages and other structures due to potential fire risks.

Motor vehicle recall notices are to be taken seriously. Consumers who ignore them are doing so at their peril. The results could be catastrophic motor vehicle accidents that result in serious injuries or fatalities.