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Expiration Dates on Recalls: When to Worry

Recalls happen more than you might think, but they usually affect very few drivers in the grand scheme of things. Vehicle manufacturers can issue them voluntarily or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) can order one. Either way, most drivers are unaware of what a recall entails.

You probably know that you need to get your vehicle into a manufacturer approved shop for repairs, but there’s more to consider. A top concern among consumers is whether recalls expire. Here’s what you need to know about expiration dates on recalls and when to start worrying.

The Recall Process

Once a recall is issued, manufacturers must let all registered owners and anyone who purchased the models in question know about it under federal law. This notification is sent via registered mail, explains the potential safety hazard, and instructs drivers on how to correct the problem.

Federal law also requires the manufacturers to pay for repairs. Drivers must be informed about how long the repair will take and who to contact if there is an issue, as well. The vast majority of recalls are also made public through the media weeks in advance of the letter. This helps drivers with out-of-date mailing addresses in the manufacturer’s system be notified as well.

If you happened to make the same repair prior to the recall, you can be reimbursed with proper receipts. Most manufacturers allow you seek compensation if the repair was made up to one year prior to the recall date.

Expiration Dates

Now that you know what happens during a recall, the question becomes if recalls expire. Some will have expiration dates that require drivers to get their car in for repairs within a certain time period. Those without an expiration are enforced for reasonable periods.

Reasonable periods can be tricky. The NHTSA says that a manufacturer must go out of business or the required parts for the repair are out of production. Manufacturers might try to get around this rule, though, claiming reasonable periods are within a timeframe.

If you run into this issue, you’ll need a legal expert in lemon law to force the manufacturer’s hand. These laws vary by state, which means you’ll need to hire an attorney licensed in yours. California’s premier lemon law legal experts work at Conn Law, PC, if you need a good reference for finding one in your state.

NHTSA Follow-Up

Manufacturers are required to file quarterly progress reports about the number of vehicles that been inspected and repaired. The NHTSA can then determine if the manufacturer needs to notify owners again with another round of letters. Car makers can also use DMV registrations to figure out which drivers haven’t come in for repairs yet.

With all of this communication, you won’t need to worry about knowing when to take your car in for a recall. The NHTSA’s rule about reasonable periods also mean you’re covered for an ample amount of time, but it’s still a good idea to get your car in for repairs as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the longer you’re driving around with a safety concern.