Car Recalls: What to Do and the Importance of the Recall Notice

What you need to know:

  • Research your car make and model for recall notices and pay attention to any recall notices you get. It might save you the trouble of a claim.
  • The claim frequency for drivers with a vehicle that has a noncrash fire-related recall is much higher than those without one, according to insurance industry research.
  • This year so far, automakers have recalled cars in the U.S. in record-breaking numbers.

There have been a record-breaking number of vehicles recalled in the U.S. this year, according to Bloomberg News, so here’s a piece of advice for drivers that especially relevant now:

If you get a recall notice, don’t ignore it.

Beyond that, it might be prudent to research your car model to see if there’s a recall issued for it. A recent study from the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) showed that there’s value in repairing your car after a recall notice and that it can reduce the chance that you’ll have to file a claim in the future.

What to Do with a Recall Notice

You’ll get a recall notice either from your automaker or from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Notices will inform you about your vehicle’s defect and what kinds of repairs are needed. Notices will also direct you to a local repair shop, or provide a list of options where you can get that defect addressed. Bring that notice to a listed repair shop so your car can undergo recall-related repairs. Recall-related repairs won’t cost you anything.

Drivers don’t have to wait around if they are wondering about their vehicle. Federal officials list recent vehicle recall notices, and you can conduct a more in-depth search at SaferCar.gov. Visit to see if your make and model has had any recalls issued and sign up for email alerts so that you can know the moment your vehicle has a recall issued for it.

Recalls This Year Have Included GM, Ford, Hyundai Models

Undoubtedly, this year’s biggest headline-grabbing vehicle recall was from General Motors, but the automaker was hardly alone in 2014.

Recalls that have shown up in the news for personal passenger vehicles include recalls for the Hyundai Elantra Touring, totaling 35,000 vehicles in the U.S. for mode years 2010-12, and the Ford Fiesta, totaling 197 in North America for the model year 2014.

Claims and Recalls

The car on the lift in a repair garage

According to data from the HLDI, a research entity funded by car insurance companies, the risk that you’ll file a claim on a vehicle “decreases after the defects have been identified and a recall is issued.”

Matt Moore, president of the HLDI, said that “recalls mitigate the effect of fire-related defects” that were the focus of the study.

“Even after recalls are issued, these vehicles continue to have higher claim rates [compared to vehicles without recalls],” Moore said in a statement. “This may be a result of people not following up after receiving a recall notice.”

Ford announced a recall last week for a small number of its 2014 Fiesta models because of a missing layer of adhesive on gas tanks that leak and lead to fires, according to The Detroit News. Another recall for a fire-related defect was issued last month for the Ford Taurus, model years 2010-14, for more than 180,000 vehicles.

“[R]ecalls are issued for a reason and they are effective at reducing risk,” Moore added. “When you get a recall notice, don’t put off the repairs.”

About Charles Nguyen
Charles Nguyen is an enterprising journalist who reported for Patch.com and the Desert Dispatch and was the editor in chief of the Guardian (the twice-weekly newspaper at the University of California, San Diego) before coming to Online Auto Insurance News.

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