What Should I Do If I Receive a Safety Recall Notice for My Car?

You may have heard about the Takata airbag safety recall, which affected tens of millions of cars and trucks made by different manufacturers going back to 2008. According to Transport Canada, there have been no reports of accidents related to the airbags in Canada, but Takata was only one of hundreds of recalls issued every year.

When automakers discover safety problems in their cars, they are responsible to come up with a plan to fix the problem. They must also notify Transport Canada, which keeps a database of all safety recalls for cars sold in Canada. If you receive a Notice of Defect from your car's manufacturer, follow the instructions in the notice.

Why Should I Respond to a Safety Recall And What Steps Should I Take?

First, don't make the mistake that some owners do of ignoring the problem. According to CBC News, up to one in six cars on Canadian roads could have an outstanding safety recall notice.

Even though the safety problem may seem minor, failing to respond to the notice could put you and other drivers at risk. The most common reasons for car safety recalls in North America include:

  • Fuel system and engine problems - which could lead to fuel leakage or even fires
  • Steering and transmission problems - which could lead to loss of control or unexpected starts and stops
  • Wheel defects - leading to breaks or cracks
  • Onboard vehicle computer systems - causing unexpected problems with vehicle control, seat restraints, and driving safety

These problems all pose potential road hazards and driving risks.

If you receive a formal recall notice, follow the manufacturer's instructions and make an appointment for your vehicle to be repaired at your local dealer.

If you see that your car is part of a recall using Transport Canada's database or downloadable app, visit the recommended manufacturer website and follow the instructions there.

How Do I Check To See if My Vehicle Is Part of a Recall?

Transport Canada maintains an online database of safety recalls. You can also download an app that notifies you of any recalls as they are announced.

Transport Canada's list identifies vehicles by year, make and model, but not all vehicles may be involved in a recall. You should follow up with your dealer or manufacturer and have your car's Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) at-hand. They can tell you if your car's VIN number is included in the recall or not.

Can My Car Insurance Be Denied If I Don't Get Recall Work Done?

You're unlikely to have problems with your car insurance if you don't know about a car safety recall and therefore, don't have the repair work completed. Transport Canada only requires manufacturers to notify owners of safety recalls: they don't require that manufacturers or dealers perform the required work.

If you're in an accident because of a safety recall that you didn't know about, your insurance company will pay the claim and will seek reimbursement from the manufacturer.

One of the main reasons people overlook safety recalls, especially if they seem minor, is the inconvenience of waiting for days, and sometimes even weeks, for the dealer to repair a safety problem. Dealers aren't required to provide loaner cars in case of recalls. This is a good reason to look for a car insurance policy that offers rental car benefits in case your car is in the shop for needed repairs, including safety recalls. Check your written policy to see if it provides this kind of coverage.

Stay on top of car safety recalls using Transport Canada's database and find car insurance that will support you in doing your part to keep your car in good repair and safe running order.