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When is a Vehicle Recall Necessary?

May 24, 2012
Colson Hicks Eidson

When is a vehicle recall necessary?

  • When a motor vehicle or item of motor vehicle equipment (including tires) does not comply with a Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard; or
  • When there is a safety-related defect in the vehicle or equipment.

Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) set minimum performance requirements for those parts of the vehicle that most affect its safe operation (brakes, tires, lighting) or that protect drivers and passengers from death or serious injury in the event of a crash (air bags, safety belts, child restraints, energy absorbing steering columns, motorcycle helmets). These Federal Standards are applicable to all vehicles and vehicle-related equipment manufactured or imported for sale in the United States (including U.S. territories) and certified for use on public roads and highways.

What are safety-related defects?

  • Steering components that break causing the vehicle to lose control
  • Accelerator controls that break or stick
  • Wheels that crack or break
  • Air bags that deploy unexpectedly
  • Seats or seat backs that fail during normal use
  • Wiring systems that cause a fire

What are defects that are not safety-related?

  • Air conditioners and radios that do not work properly
  • Paint or cosmetic blemishes
  • Body panel rust
  • Ordinary wear and tear that drivers need to maintain and replace such as batteries, shock absorbers, brake pads and exhaust systems

Does your car have a safety-related defect?