EDISON - You may have gotten notices in the mail informing you that your vehicle has been recalled for a safety problem. Recalls are on the rise, and for drivers, they can be inconvenient to fix and dangerous to ignore.
Automotive experts say one reason for the surge in recalls is that the same parts are now being used in many different cars. That was why a recall of Takata airbags earlier this year wound up affecting hundreds of thousands of vehicles from multiple car companies. But when multiple automakers recall the same part simultaneously, it may also delay the repair process.
They're telling you that you need this part fixed, says automotive attorney Amy Bennecoff, "but then you go to the dealership to get it repaired and it's not there. Very frustrating to consumers."
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But even worse than the inconvenience of repeatedly bringing your car to the dealership for recall repairs is the potential danger created when drivers are not notified about safety problems. Drivers who purchased their cars used often don't get recall information, and a Kane In Your Corner investigation over the summer found as many as 15 percent of New Jersey drivers could be unaware of open recalls on their vehicles.
To find out if there are open recalls on your car, you can check the NHTSA database, which is available online. If you find open recalls, experts advise contacting the dealer in advance to schedule recall repairs. If parts are back ordered, Bennecoff says sending a certified letter to the automaker asking for an ETA could get you faster service. And if your car is less than 2 years old and winds up staying in the shop for an extended period of time, you could be entitled to compensation under the New Jersey Lemon Law.
Finally, sometimes car owners will get their vehicles repaired, only to find out the part they paid to have fixed was subsequently recalled. Experts say when that happens, the manufacturer should reimburse you, so save your receipts.