Auto recall basics and the law

On Behalf of | Nov 30, 2020 | Personal Injury

Defective vehicles have caused around 299 million recalls since 1966, including 84 million equipment parts. The Federal Motor Safety Standards outline minimum safety requirements that all vehicle manufacturers in Texas and around the country must follow. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has information on the latest vehicle recalls.

How recalls work

A recall is initiated at the discovery of a defective part. In most cases, a number of consumers have to make complaints before a product gets recalled. Though there is no set number of reports used, investigations consider the number of complaints, the seriousness of the problem and the year of the vehicle to determine isolated issues or trends.

Once the defect has been found, the manufacturer must inform all buyers of the vehicle, including telling them how to get it fixed and time limits. The Office of Defects Investigation may contact the consumer to verify information.

What are safety-related vehicle defects?

Safety defects in a vehicle relate to what could endanger the driver if found defective. The National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1966 allows the NHTSA to set safety requirements for these parts.

Safety-related defects commonly include steering wheels, brakes, cracked or broken wheels, car ramps, defective seat belts, wiring systems and airbags that fail to deploy at the right time. Safety-related defects do not involve air conditioners, body paint or normal equipment wear needing inspection, such as brake pads, shocks or exhaust systems.

Are recalls voluntary?

In most cases, vehicle manufacturers make voluntary recalls and remedy the problem themselves. In some cases, they may be forced by NHTSA if the organization finds a defect and orders the maker to recall the vehicle. A manufacturer has the right to challenge a recall, and the issue may go to court. There, the NHTSA has to prove that the vehicle had a defect.

Consumers who get injured by defective and dangerous products have a right to sue the vehicle maker. Legal assistance may be necessary to get the manufacturer to corporate.