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How Do I Check for Motor Vehicle Defects?

Posted On August 30, 2017 In Helpful Information

Millions of vehicles are recalled in the US each year for defects that may cause catastrophic injuries and deaths. For example, General Motors’ (GM) faulty ignition switch may be responsible for an estimated 124 deaths and 274 injuries. Vehicles with this defect could lose power while they were being driven. As a result, the airbags, power steering and other necessary features no longer worked. GM’s ignition switch is only one example of how motor vehicle defects can contribute to horrific injuries or wrongful death. It is important to stay on top of recall notices so you and your family can stay safe.

Before explaining how to use popular tools to check for vehicle defects, it is important to emphasize that automakers do not always issue a recall once defects have been found. For example, GM engineers detected the ignition switch defect in 2004, but only issued a recall in 2014. Keep this in mind as you read today’s blog.

If your automaker is abiding by federal laws, then it will issue a recall once it determines the presence of a defect. The two most popular tools to check for recalls are and the myCARFAX app:

  1. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) operates, a website that allows you to check for unfixed recalls. To use the website, grab your vehicle identification number (also called the VIN). You can locate this number by looking on the driver’s side dashboard. It may also be on your car insurance policy card. Once you have the number, plug it into NHTSA’s VIN search tool. However, keep in mind that NHTSA’s tool may not show very recent recalls. The tool will also only cover unfixed recalls during the last 15 years. In addition, the tool will not show information on foreign vehicles.
  2. Use the myCARFAX app: You could use the myCARFAX app (Android and iOS) to check if your vehicle is under recall. In addition, this CARFAX will also let you know your vehicle’s repair history. However, like NHTSA’s website, you will also need to pull your VIN to receive this information. The myCARFAX app will also send recall notices to your phone.

What Can I Do with a Recalled Vehicle?

Depending on the circumstances, your vehicle may be recalled by NHTSA or the manufacturer. If your vehicle is under recall, then you can receive free repairs from your local dealership. However, keep in mind that it may be simply too dangerous to drive your vehicle. For example, NHTSA has warned 2001-2003 Honda Civic and Acura vehicle owners not to drive their cars – even to the dealership for repairs. In these cases, see if the dealership will tow your vehicle to be fixed.

Unfortunately, repairs may not be completed right away. If the repairs are scheduled to take more than one day, then you could ask your dealership for a loaner vehicle.

Depending on the circumstances, you could also file a lawsuit if you or a loved one were harmed by a vehicle defect. In this case, a Texas defective product attorney at Mike Love & Associates, LLC could help you determine your eligibility for filing a lawsuit.

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