What To Do If Your Car Has a Recall

A step-by-step guide to dealing with a recalled vehicle.

2022 Chevrolet Bolt EVChevrolet

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Perhaps you heard something on the evening news, saw an alert from your vehicle’s phone app, or received an email from your dealer about a recall on your car. So, how do you verify the recall, and what do you do next? Let’s take a look.

How Do I Confirm if My Vehicle Has Been Recalled?

The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) website is one of the best places to confirm the recall. Head to the recalls section on the top navigation, and type in your specific Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). This is important because sometimes an automaker will recall some cars for a particular model year but not all vehicles. So, the only way to tell if your specific car is recalled is through the VIN.

Not sure what your VIN is? It’s located on the driver’s side dash, which you can see if you stand outside the vehicle and look through the windshield. But you can also likely find it on your insurance card or vehicle title records.

The recall notice on the NHTSA website will tell you the problem, the remedy, and when the parts are expected to be available.

What Are My Next Steps?

Once you confirm your vehicle is, in fact, recalled, you need to contact your local dealership to make an appointment to repair the problem.

However, depending on the severity of the issue, there may be other instructions detailed in the recall that you must follow until you can get the vehicle repaired. For example, in a recent recall from General Motors regarding the Chevrolet Bolt EV and EUV, owners were advised to limit the charge level to 90%, avoid depleting the battery to 70 miles of range, park outside after charging, and not charge the vehicle indoors overnight.

Usually, the recalls are not this severe. And like this recent Ford F-150 recall, the notice simply calls for a part to be repaired or replaced because it may fail.

How Much Will the Recall Repairs Cost?

The recall repairs themselves are free. Depending on the severity of the recall, the repair itself could take anywhere from hours to days. So, while the repair itself is no cost to you, you may incur a cost for a rental vehicle while your vehicle is in the shop.

Ford points out in its FAQ section, that coverage for a rental vehicle varies by recall or customer satisfaction program. So, when you call to make your recall repair appointment, verify how long the repair will take and if a loaner vehicle will be available.

What if I Have More Questions?

Each vehicle recall notice on the NHTSA website provides both an identification number for the specific recall and the automaker's customer service number. NHTSA also has a vehicle safety hotline that can field inquiries about a vehicle recall.

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Jill Ciminillo
Jill Ciminillo is a Chicago-based automotive writer, YouTube personality, and podcast host, with her articles and videos appearing in outlets throughout the U.S. Additionally, she co-hosts a weekly radio show on cars for a local Chicago station. Previously, Jill has been the automotive editor for both newspaper and broadcast media conglomerates. She is also a past president for the Midwest Automotive Media Association and has the distinction of being the first female president for that organization.