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Automobile Lemon Law

Vehicle Recalls

What is NHTSA?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is a governmental agency that is part of the Department of Transportation. It was created to save lives, prevent injuries, and reduce vehicle related crashes. At part of it’s duty, NHSTA investigates vehicle manufacturers and has the authority to issue vehicle recalls to protect the motorists and the public at large.

What is a vehicle recall?

A recall is issued when a manufacturer or NHTSA determines that a vehicle, equipment, car seat, or tire creates an unreasonable safety risk or fails to meet minimum safety standards. Manufacturers are required to fix the problem by repairing it, replacing it, offering a refund, or in rare cases repurchasing the vehicle.

Once NHTSA determines a safety risk exists and issues a recall, it will continue to monitor the recall to make sure the manufacturer follows through with the repair or remedy. Any remedies or repairs mandated by the recall are free to the vehicle owner and are to be paid for by the manufacturer. If you find that a car manufacturer or their dealer is charging you for recall repairs, that is illegal. You should contact us immediately for a free consultation and we’ll explain your rights.

Common types of recalls?

Recalls can be issued for almost any type of problem affecting your car. Some examples include: Engine problems, transmission malfunctions, powertrain defects, electrical issues, fire issues, brake defects, light problems, door and window problems, air bag defects, seat belt defects, battery charging problems, wiring issues, and trunk and door locking problems.

How will I know if my vehicle has been recalled?

Your vehicle manufacturer will notify you of a recall on your car by mailing you a recall notice letter in the mail to your vehicle registration address. This is why it is important to make sure you register your vehicle and to keep your registration up to date. If you change your address and do not update your address with the DMV then you may not receive a recall notice as it may be sent to your old address.

You can also check online on NHTSA’s website to see if your vehicle is affected by any recall. Simply go to and you can search by your vehicle VIN, or make and model, to find any past or present vehicle’s affecting your vehicle. Alternatively, you can sign up for NHTSA’s automatic recall notification mailing list at to receive emails about recalls that have been issued.

What should I do if I get a recall notice?

If you get a recall notice for your vehicle, you should open it immediately and follow the instructions in the notice. Remember, the reason a recall has occurred is because there is a potential safety risk in your vehicle, so it is important not to discard a recall notice, or put off reading it. The notice will state what the defect is that affects your vehicle, what the safety risk is that it poses, and will then explain what the remedy is. Normally, it will state that you should take your car to one of the manufacturer’s local dealers to have them make the necessary repairs. If this is the case, you should take your car in to service and have them make the repair free of charge.

What if the recall says a remedy is not available?

Often times, the manufacturer will issue a recall notice before they have found a fix for the problem. They do this to inform the public of the safety risk. In these situations the notice will state that they’re working on a remember for a remedy is not available yet. Once it becomes available, they will notify you. If this happens to you, please contact us for a free consultation about your rights.  

What if my recall has other instructions?

Many times a recall notice will contain other instructions for you to follow, other than taking your car in for repair. For example, many Kia and GM vehicles were recalled because of a defect that could cause the vehicle to catch fire while the vehicle was not in use. While Kia and GM were searching for a repair, they instructed car owners to park their vehicles outside, not in their garages, and away from structures. If you receive a recall notice for your vehicle with special instructions that in some way limit the use of your car, prohibit you from doing certain things with your car, or request you take certain actions, you should contact us immediately. You bought a vehicle and the manufacturer is preventing you from fully being able to use your vehicle however you like. That is not proper and you have rights.  

What if the recall takes too long to fix?

Keep in mind, when you receive a recall notice, you are one of potentially millions of people affected by the same problem. As such, the manufacturer may not be able to fix everyone’s vehicle that is affected right away or in a reasonable time. Often the manufacturer will not have the necessary quantity of parts needed to service all affected cars or parts may not be available. Other times, the manufacture may not have resources needed to handle all the repairs. If you take your recalled vehicle to service and the dealer says they can’t fix your car or the repair takes a long time, contact us immediately. If the manufacturer takes too long to repair your car, you may have a lemon.  

What if problems still exist after the recall repair?

If you take your car in to your dealer for a recalled issue repair and the repair is not done correctly, or you have to take your car in multiple times to correct the repair, or other problems arise as a result of the recall, your car may be deemed a lemon. Contact us for a free case evaluation to understand your rights.

Can a manufacturer sell a vehicle that is under recall?

It is important to understand that if a vehicle is under recall, it cannot be sold until the vehicle is repaired and made safe. So if a recall does not have a remedy available, a dealer cannot sell it. Often times dealers have cars on their lot that become recalled. They’re obligated to repair them before they can legally sell them. So if you’re buying a vehicle you should make sure that it does not have any outstanding recalls. If it does and the dealer sells it to you, that’s a violation of the law. Contact us to see what your options are.

If your car is subject to recall or you have any questions about recalls, contact us for a free consultation. We’ll take the time to explain your rights. Many times recalls can result in a vehicle being classified as a lemon. If that is the case you may be entitled to a refund or replacement vehicle.


Thank you for submitting your inquiry. A firm member will contact you to follow up shortly after we review your information to see if we can assist you. If you do not receive a response within 48 hours, please call our firm to ensure your message was received. 

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