Car recalls: what are they and what should you do if your vehicle gets recalled?

Last updated April 30, 2021

It’s not an uncommon occurrence for a car manufacturer to recall vehicles, with over two million vehicles recalled last year according to the DVSA. There are a multitude of safety features on a modern vehicle which can go wrong and result in a car being recalled by a manufacturer, ranging from faulty airbags to excessively high CO2 emissions. In this article we will explain what a vehicle recall is, what to do if your car is recalled and if you should be alarmed.

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What is a vehicle safety recall?

A safety recall happens when the manufacturer of your car or the DVSA (Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency) find a potential issue that impacts the safety of a vehicle. A car recall can occur for a number of reasons and the issue might not always be too serious, like in the case of a faulty headlight. However, there have been more serious issues that have resulted in recalls in the past, including faulty airbags and brakes.

A safety recall is a pro-active effort from the car manufacturer to resolve widespread issues with a car as soon as they are detected. The rules for recalls are explained in a code of practice from the DVSA and explains to manufacturers what they need to do when a safety defect is identified.

What to do if my car is recalled

It is a legal obligation to maintain a car and keep it in a safe roadworthy condition. Therefore, if you receive a safety recall letter from the manufacturer, you should act promptly to get the issue resolved. Ignoring a car safety recall letter could result in your insurance being invalid and you could be charged with using a defective vehicle.

If a car has been recalled, the registered owner will receive a recall notice letter from the manufacturer which should explain the problem, the work that needs to be done and how long it should take.

Recently, Ford has recalled 27,000 PHEV Kuga’s and issued a stop-sale order due to the battery overheating, which poses a fire risk.

Should I be worried if my car is recalled?

In most cases, there is no reason to be worried if you receive a recall notice letter as it is a usually a case of the manufacturer fixing safety issues as a precautionary measure before anything goes wrong. However, in some cases the recall may be more serious and the manufacturer may state that the vehicle shouldn’t be driven before the safety issue has been fixed. This is generally referred to as a Stop Drive Recall and although rare, these vehicle recalls are still issued on occasion.

How to find out if a car needs a recall

If your car is recalled by the manufacturer, you should receive a letter that explains the issue and what needs to be fixed. The manufacturer will also report recalls to the media to spread awareness, so if you’ve heard something about your car in the media you should contact the manufacturer’s customer service department or a local dealer to ask if there are any outstanding recalls.

Alternatively, you can check if your car, part, or accessory has been recalled on the government website by entering your registration plate.

Do I have to pay for repairs if my car is recalled?

If your car is recalled because of a production fault, the manufacturer will cover the costs for all work recommended on the recall notice, meaning you have nothing to pay. All you will need to do is contact an approved dealership and book your car in for the required work. The only reason you’ll need to pay for any work to be completed is if there are other issues found when your car is being checked but this will be discussed before any work is carried out.

Will a safety recall affect the value of my car?

In most instances, a recall is made to proactively resolve any potential safety issues, so it shouldn’t affect the resale value of a car. However, bad publicity about a particular model and accidents occurring due to a recall issue could have a negative impact on the value due to a drop in demand.