MS&H Blog

Car Recalls: What You Should Know

Source:  Accent by Chubb

An alarming statistic is making news:  There have been nearly 100 million vehicle recalls in the United States since the beginning of 2014 – a quarter of that number happened in the first half of 2015.

The growing number of recalls is attracting such attention not just because of the record numbers, but because several of the issues leading to recalls resulted in deaths.  Most recently, faulty Takata air bags have been linked to at least six deaths and 100 injuries, and their recall was recently expanded to include 34 million cars.  A defective ignition switch problem in General Motors’ vehicles, which can cause cars to shut off while being driven, has been tied to at least 100 deaths.

Why so many recalls?

Concerned drivers and lawmakers are demanding answers from car manufacturers and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) regarding these recalls (and the news-making casualties).  Have auto-manufacturing safety standards suddenly plummeted?

On the contrary, claim regulators.  In fact, many of the recalls come from investigations prompted by the NHTSA.  Recalls involving Takata’s air bags and 1.5 million Jeep Grand Cherokee and Liberty SUVs for fuel-tank punctures were demanded by NHTSA.  The agency also handed down $126 million in fines for manufacturers who didn’t alert them to safety issues.  And GM admitted it had taken a decade to report its own defects.

Consumer Reports says that the recalls comes as new auto safety features are showing up in cars, dropping traffic deaths almost 25 percent to the lowest on the record in 2013, according to government data.  The new head of the NHTSA, Mark Rosekind, has said that the number of recalls may even go up as the system works to better detect defects and demands that auto manufacturers take responsibility.

Getting your vehicle fixed

Still, according to Carfax, many owners never get their cars fixed, even though repairs are free to recalled cars.  Considering that 254.7 million cars and trucks are traveling U.S. roads, there’s a high probability that your car is affected by one of the recalls.  Carfax estimates that there are about 46 million recalled vehicles on the road that have not been repaired.

Regulators advise that you not wait to get a letter in the mail or experience a problem with your car.  You can take your vehicle identification number – the 17-digit number that you can find on the car, your registration or your insurance card – punch it into your automaker’s website or the NHTSA’s site,, and see if work is pending.  Carfax also has a free app that will run a license plate number to see if your vehicle has been recalled.

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