What to do if parts are unavailable for your car’s recall
If you receive a recall for your car but the replacement parts are unavailable for the fix, there are some steps to follow to cover yourself while you wait.
Brian and Tracy Menier drive a Mercury Milan. They received a notice about a potentially dangerous brake recall last December, but they were told they couldn't get the new parts required.
"I called Ford right away because the brake issue was something that could fail. I called right away, and they said the parts aren't available," says Brian Menier.
Tracy Menier says they started having brake problems six months later.
"It was on Father's Day and there was a car slowing down in front of me, I attempted to slow down, and the brake was gone. So, I used the emergency brake. The kids were crying and scared, and Brian came and got us, and we had the car towed home," she says.
The brakes seemed fine the next day, but the family no longer trusted the car and requested a loaner from their dealer until they could get a replacement part. That worked for two months, until the dealer needed the loaner back. The brake issue persists.
"Last Thursday, with my 16-year-old in the car, I ended up blowing through a stop sign to a main road," says Tracy Menier. "This time was the worst. The brake pedal was completely gone."
The Meniers contacted Ford Motor Company after this latest incident but without success.
Automotive consumer attorney Bob Silverman says drivers whose cars are recalled but can't be fixed should start by doing what the Menier family did - contact the automaker in writing.
"If there's a mandated recall, and they're saying 'we need to fix your car' but there's no parts available and your car's unsafe, they need to make sure you're in safe wheels while you're waiting for your car to be repaired," says Silverman. "Send them a certified letter or at least an email, and tell them 'I don't feel safe, here's the recall number, provide me with a loaner or agree to reimburse me until you have to fix my car.' That will prove that you made that claim and if you have to rent something thereafter, at least you gave them notice and opportunity to take care of it."
Silverman says to document any rental car expenses if that doesn't work and to seek legal advice if necessary. If the car is new, you may consider a claim under your state's lemon law.
While the normal backlog of parts could be worsened by the pandemic, Silverman believes that's not necessarily the case. News 12 contacted Ford about the Meniers' case and received this response: "We take the safety of our customers very seriously. We recognize the inconvenience recalls cause our customers and we are working with our suppliers to secure parts as quickly as possible."
The Meniers, though, are running out of patience.