How to Handle a Recall
Modern cars are bigger, faster, smarter, safer and better equipped than they've ever been. However, they're also a lot more complex than they've ever been and they're getting even more complicated at a staggering rate. The days when an old boy with a shed and plenty of auto experience could get his hands dirty with a few tools and repair just about any fault are now long gone. In fact, a modern auto technician probably has more in common with a computer programmer than with an old style gas monkey. Although today's new vehicles are now also more reliable than they've ever been, there's also a lot more to them and there are all sorts of things that could go wrong even if they usually dont. Sometimes an inherent fault with a model doesn’t come to light until thousands, or even millions of them have been sold, and this can then lead to a recall. So, here's a definition of what one is and a few tips on how to handle a recall.
An automotive recall happens when a manufacturer, or the government agency responsible for such things, determines a vehicle model or even several models has a safety-related defect of some kind, or doesn't comply with one of the many federal safety standards. When something like this occurs, the manufacturer will alert owners to the situation and usually offer to correct the issue without charge. Of course, a recall doesn’t mean that the vehicle will be replaced completely, and it also doesn’t necessarily mean the problem would have caused a problem in every vehicle affected.
The first thing you shouldn't do if you are notified of a recall is panic. If the problem involved is a very serious safety concern and it's deemed the models affected are unsafe to drive, you'll certainly be told. And to be honest, it's incredibly rare this happens. The official advice from Transport Canada says you should, "have any recall repairs that may apply… carried out as soon as possible after receiving notification of a defect. Vehicle owners have a responsibility not only for their own personal safety, but for that of their passengers, subsequent owners and other road users."
It's likely you'll be informed by letter or email, and the manufacturer or dealer will tell you in it how to proceed. In most cases, you'll need to make an appointment to take your vehicle in for them to fix or replace whatever is faulty or causing concern. How long it will take them will depend what the part is and where in the vehicle it's located. Just because it might take a while isn't an indication of it being something more serious, it could just be other parts have to be removed in order to access the offending component.
You might not be aware, but there are a lot of recalls you may never hear of even if they are concerned with the make and model of car you have. When you take your vehicle in for servicing, one of the things that will get done is a check for any minor recalls that may be outstanding, and if any are required they will be sorted. Think of them as updates or enhancements rather than recalls if you like, but it's a good reason why getting your car serviced at the main dealer makes such sense.