Car recalls are issued by manufacturers only in exceptional circumstances, as the entire process of recalling potentially millions of cars is both extremely costly and damaging to a brand’s reputation. The recent VW pollution scandal, in which millions of diesel engines in the Volkswagen Group's cars were implicated in a concerted plan to dupe emissions tests in the US by producing misleading results, has demonstrated the potential that a recall has for transforming the image of a manufacturer in little time. Makers are therefore cautious of issuing a recall notice unless it is deemed absolutely necessary.
Car owners, however, sometimes display reluctance to heed the advice of their vehicle’s manufacturer, perceiving a recall notice to be little more than an inconvenience that is best left until another day, with that day never transpiring. Many believe a recall is simply an insurance policy against a situation that is highly unlikely to ever happen – the ‘it won’t happen to me’ syndrome – opting to retain their car instead of arranging time out of work or family life to return it to their dealer.
Is it necessary to return my car if it is recalled?
The vast majority of car recalls are issued because a problem has been identified on a particular model that could represent a danger if left uncorrected. While such recalls are usually precautionary only, it makes little sense to ignore the notice if a known problem or mechanical defect runs the risk of contributing to an accident that could cost you dearly if you were to be involved.
For example, in the UK, over 250,000 Nissan and Toyota cars have been recalled as it is believed that a problem exists affecting the effectiveness of the vehicles’ airbag inflators. Given the important role the airbags play in protecting you and your passengers – and given that you can never predict when a road accident might happen – it makes little sense to ignore the recall when to do so could have significant consequences.
Furthermore, being involved in a collision that is determined to have been caused by a mechanical fault on your vehicle, which you have failed to have rectified despite a recall notice having been issued, could invalidate your insurance, leading to potential civil claims against you if you are held to be liable for the incident.
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If I don’t observe a recall notice, will my car lose value?
Quite possibly, yes.
If you have chosen not to observe a recall by your vehicle’s manufacturer, you may find that your car fails to achieve its potential value when the time comes to sell it on. Alternatively, in the worst case scenario, you may find that buyers are put off purchasing your car once they discover that the recall has been overlooked, as repair work that was deemed essential by the manufacturer has not been carried out.
Having had repairs carried out on your car under a manufacturer’s recall will not affect its future value.
With a plentiful supply of cars on the market, buyers can afford to be picky. Finding an alternative model to purchase may be their preferred course of action if they don’t want to be inconvenienced by having to have the work carried out themselves.
Do I have to pay for work carried out under a recall?
Repairs ordered by your car manufacturer are usually completed free of charge, so it makes perfect sense to have the work carried out as soon as possible.
It’s worth noting that, while a recall notice doesn’t expire, manufacturers may not be obliged to offer repairs free of charge for vehicles of a certain age or mileage, so ignoring the recall for a considerable length of time could mean you cannot have the work carried out at no cost.
If you’re informed of a recall affecting your car, or hear of a recall in the press, the logical response is to book in your vehicle as soon as it is convenient to have the recommended work carried out. Only by doing so can you be reassured that your car is safe and will maintain its value, without having to pay a penny for the repairs from your own pocket.