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Safety January 29, 2015

Explaining Automotive Safety Recalls

2014 was a record year for auto safety recalls. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, one in five vehicles – over 50 million cars and trucks – drew warnings for critical defects.

An automotive safety recall is required when a motor vehicle or a part of the vehicle’s equipment does not comply with a Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard or when there is a safety-related defect in the vehicle or equipment.

Safety-related recalls might include:

  • Steering components that break suddenly causing partial or complete loss of vehicle control
  • Problems with fuel system components that could result in gas leaking and possibly cause a vehicle to catch fire if in an accident
  • Accelerator controls that may break or stick
  • Tires cracking or breaking, resulting in loss of driving control
  • Engine cooling fan blades that unexpectedly break causing injury to a mechanic
  • Windshield wipers not functioning properly
  • Seats and/or seat backs that fail unexpectedly during normal use
  • Important vehicle components that break, fall apart, or separate from the vehicle, causing possible loss of vehicle control and injury
  • Wiring system problems that result in a fire or loss of lighting
  • Car ramps or jacks that may collapse and cause injury to a mechanic or the vehicle’s owner
  • Air bags that deploy under conditions in which they are not intended to deploy

If a safety issue is discovered, the vehicle’s manufacturer must file a public report describing the safety-related defect or noncompliance with a Federal motor vehicle safety standard, the involved vehicle/equipment population, the hazard that resulted in the recall decision, a description of the solution, when the service for repair will be available and how long the repair will take.

Here’s an alarming fact: according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, nearly one-third of recall notices mailed to vehicle owners are ignored.

Flaws related to the following are not considered safety-related and would not be covered by the manufacturer or Safety Act:

Virginia Tire and Auto cares about your safety. If you receive a letter from your vehicle’s manufacturer notifying you of a safety recall, please contact your dealer as soon as possible to arrange for the recall repair.
For more information on recalls on your specific vehicle, please visit

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