Cars are getting smarter, packed with more sophisticated technology, every year. But that doesn’t mean they are free from potentially dangerous defects.
According to a recent article from 24/7 Wall St., seven of the 14 biggest auto recalls of all time have come in the last decade; in 2016, the number of recalls reached a record high.
A defect can be as basic as a faulty seat-belt locking mechanism or as baffling as a sudden surge in acceleration. It can be a flaw in the manufacturer’s design or in a product from another supplier, such as an airbag that fails to deploy properly. But if you suspect not all is right with your vehicle, there are steps you can take to protect yourself and your investment.
What is an auto recall?
A recall is issued when a car manufacturer or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration determines that a vehicle or some aspect of its equipment fails to meet minimum safety standards. Most recalls are issued voluntarily by manufacturers, who are required to fix the defective equipment by repairing it or replacing it, at no cost to the vehicle owner.
You can find out if your vehicle is subject to a recall by entering the car’s VIN number in the NHTSA’s recall lookup tool.
Notable and recent recalls
One of the most challenging recalls of all, involving numerous models from more than a dozen car companies over a period of several years, has to do with defective Takata airbags installed in more than 40 million vehicles. Hundreds of injuries and more than 20 deaths have been linked to the exploding airbags, leading to what the NHTSA has called “one of the largest and most complex recalls in U.S. history.”
The Volkswagen emissions scandal of 2014-15 also led to widespread recalls and massive fines, after company officials admitted that emissions data had been manipulated and falsified.
Recent automobile defect cases
In August 2019 alone:
- Ford recalled more than 100,000 2015 sedans over a seat-belt defect;
- Toyota recalled 135,000 2003-08 Corolla and Matrix models for an issue with the airbag inflators that replaced the Takata products;
- Audi brought in 144,000 A4 and A5 models to address a software problem;
- Ford recalled a wide swath of 483,000 pickups and SUVs over seatback support issues;
- Volkswagen set about fixing 679,000 vehicles of numerous lines that could have the key removed when the car isn’t in park, risking rollaway situations.
What rights do car buyers have?
If your car has a defect that has become the target of a particular recall, your local dealership should fix it at no cost to you.
Some states require the manufacturer or the dealer to notify buyers of all recalls, but it’s not a bad idea to check the NHTSA site on your own to determine if there’s a recall for your particular year and model.
If your local dealer won’t fix the defect in a timely manner, you can complain to the manufacturer and the NHTSA.
If the dealership still can’t or won’t fix the problem, you may have recourse under the state’s lemon laws. Such laws allow the buyer to receive a refund or a new car if the purchased vehicle meets the criteria for being a “lemon” — that is, it has serious operating or safety defects that can’t be remedied.
Can you sue a car manufacturer?
Consumers have filed product liability lawsuits against car manufacturers for serious safety defects, especially when those defects have led to accidents and injuries.
Depending on the defect, parts manufacturers may be liable, too — as in the case of the faulty Takata airbags.
In addition, consumers who believe they were misled by automakers’ claims about fuel economy, emissions ratings, and other purported benefits that turn out to be less than advertised have banded together in class action lawsuits to seek compensation and corrective actions.
For example, in 2013 Ford overstated the fuel economy rating of its C-Max hybrid model by seven miles per gallon; in 2014 Ford lowered fuel economy ratings for six other models, offering rebates to customers.
Contact an Auto Defect Lawyer at Franklin D. Azar & Associates
If you or a loved one has suffered injuries or financial loss as a result of a defective vehicle, you may be entitled to compensation. Over the past 30 years, Franklin D. Azar & Associates has represented victims in some of the most complicated and serious personal injury and wrongful death cases arising from defective products.
Our auto defect attorneys have deep knowledge and extensive experience to navigate the legal and technical aspects of your claim, including defective design, manufacturing, and labeling/marketing issues. Call us at (855) 637-1268 or contact us here for a free consultation and no-obligation evaluation of your case.