A recall would be issued on your vehicle if your car manufacturer finds out that it might compromise your safety. It could range from minute problems to major life-threatening ones.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) could issue the recall themselves if the vehicle doesn’t meet up to standards.
Most people know what a vehicle recall is. However, very few people know all that it entails.
The terms, the conditions and all other things in between. Let’s find out.
Here’s the short answer to whether car recalls have to be done at dealerships:
Car dealerships are the only ones allowed to fix a recall issue for free. They also have better experience with the recall problem. This is usually because they’ve handled more cases of recalls than the average mechanic.
They are also more equipped by the automaker to handle recall repairs more efficiently.
Why Can I not Have Any Car Repair Shop Fix the Recall Issue?
Of course, any car repair shop may fix the recall issue. It only means that you’ll have to pay for all costs yourself.
If there’s a recall on your car, take it to the closest car dealership around you. The law requires them to fix the problem free of all charges.
Note: The dealer you take your car to has to be registered with your vehicle’s manufacturer. This means that a dealership of another car brand has no business fixing your car.
What If I Live Far Away From the Dealership?
There are many dealerships in every state. Also, the population density of dealerships keeps increasing every year. This means that there is a greater possibility of a dealership being just a few miles away from you.
If you still can’t find a dealer close by, there are many dealerships that offer home services. This gives you the convenience of staying put while they pick your car up for fixing. All you have to do is wait, and after they fix your car, they’d deliver it to your home.
They would do this for a fee, of course. The price for home service may range from $400 to over $5000. This depends on factors like the car they’re transporting, the dealership itself, and your location.
You should know that paying for home service would usually be more expensive than driving to and from the dealership.
Can a Dealership Refuse to Fix a Recall?
A dealership may refuse to fix a recall if they discover the problem isn’t related to the recall issue. They might also refuse to fix the problem if something entirely different damaged or affected the recalled component.
For example, if the automaker recalled a component for being faulty or susceptible to developing fault. A dealership could refuse to replace it if you report it stolen.
Also, recalls on tires have a limited time. You can expect a tire recall to last a maximum of 60 days. If this happens, a dealership might refuse to replace your tires.
There are also reports that dealers tend not to fix recalls for cars that were seriously damaged then recouped. These are cars with salvage titles.
It is also possible that the recall isn’t applicable to all states. This means your state might be exempted.
However, if you’re lucky, some dealerships will fix or replace them for you. These things differ by location. It’s also why you should check with other dealerships, not just one.
However, dealerships screen cars carefully before working on them. As they should.
What Happens If I Have the Car Fixed Somewhere Else? (Maybe it affects the Warranty?)
Having your car fixed at a certified mechanic shouldn’t affect your warranty. However, your vehicle’s manufacturer might somehow be able to prove that the component got damaged because of the mechanic’s mistake. Cases like this could affect your warranty negatively.
Some cars have salvage titles. This shows that they’ve been thoroughly damaged and then repaired in the past. Owners of such cars automatically lose their claim to a warranty.
You should keep evidence of your regular oil changes and whatever shows that you care for your vehicle. You never know when you might need it.
Using aftermarket parts on your vehicle may also void your car’s warranty. Neglect or improper servicing of your car, at the specified intervals, using the specified products, may also void your warranty.
Almost everything about a car’s warranty involves proof. Therefore, the manufacturer must prove that you neglected the proper care that should have been given to the vehicle. They also have to prove that the aftermarket parts were responsible for the damage in your vehicle.
You should read and understand your owner’s manual thoroughly to know what can void your warranty.
Do All Dealerships Fix Recalls for Free?
As long as you take your car to an authorized dealership of your manufacturer, the recall should be free. No dealership charges you for services involving repair or replacement of parts regarding the recall.
They may, however, give you an invoice if they have to fix other components of your car. These are components that aren’t covered by the recall. It works similarly to insurance.
Still, if you’re lucky, repairs not covered by the recall would be covered by your warranty.
A dealership might, however, send you away or refer you to a different dealership. Not because you’re ineligible, but because they’re probably not fully equipped to fix your recall.
This usually occurs when many people in your region have similar problems. Eventually, it can cause the dealership to run out of parts.
What If I Don’t Trust the Dealership?
If you don’t trust the dealership, you always have the option of going to a different dealership in another location. Some dealerships are better equipped to fix certain recalls than others.
That’s why you should find a dealership you can trust or one that has excellent reviews. You shouldn’t be overly cautious either. Most dealers can easily fix minor recall issues in your car.
However, the dealership must be an authorized dealership for your automaker. Usually, car manufacturers have so several dealerships in a state or even town.
If you don’t trust any dealership at all, perhaps you’d be better off at an auto repair shop. You will do well to remember the risk and cost associated with that. For recalls, the dealership is always the best choice.
How Long Do Recalls Take to Fix?
A recall shouldn’t take more than a couple of hours to fix. Minor issues usually only require minutes. As long as the dealerships are fully equipped and ready to fix cars, it won’t take long.
Sometimes, it may take a while for dealerships everywhere to get ready. This means dealerships also need to source parts after the manufacturer announces a recall, before they can get to work.
Other times, the closest dealership may not be ready to fix your recall issue. They may also run out of parts due to demand. You may need to check other dealerships farther from you.
All these factors affect how long it would take to fix the car.
However, the most time is wasted when the problem is too severe for the dealership. Such cars get sent to the manufacturer and take longer to get fixed. The time it’ll take to fix the car can amount to weeks or even months.
Should I Bother About Recalls When Buying a Car?
Being cautious wouldn’t do any harm. The answer to this question is both yes and no.
If you’re buying a brand new car, there’s little or nothing to be worried about. This is because no manufacturer would sell a car that already has an open recall to its name. So, except you’re considering the future to know which cars would be recalled later on, you’re good to go.
The story changes when you plan to buy a used car. Any car owner can decide to sell his car to any interested buyer who has cash, regardless of if the car has an open recall.
Now you may have a problem.
There’s no law that prevents car owners from selling cars with open recalls. This is where your caution comes in.
Before you buy a used car, check if the car has any open recalls at the time of purchase. You can do this by inputting the VIN on the NHTSA website and running a search. If the recall (s) on the car has already been repaired, it means there is no outstanding recall anymore.
You should do this besides going with an auto mechanic to check the car for defaults. Going with a mechanic and checking for recalls are both important, none should substitute the other.
Recalls would always be handled by your car manufacturer, whether issued by them or the NHTSA. However, just because your car has an open recall doesn’t mean the component is bound to fail no matter what.
A recall mostly affects cars that were all produced in the same plant and have similar materials. Sometimes, a particular part may not be compatible with the car, or may be substandard. This could cause the NHTSA to recall all vehicles that were assembled with the affected part.
So once you find out that your car has a recall, don’t wait for damage to occur. Get to a dealership.