Don’t let a recall steer you in the wrong direction


Despite the recent press about vehicle recalls, there is some good news. With a little bit of homework, you can put yourself on the road to safety and satisfaction.

Vehicle recalls have become increasingly common. In 2008 alone, hundreds of recalls were issued, affecting more than 10 million vehicles.

Vehicles with open recalls are bought and sold every day — some with recalls change hands multiple times. Estimates are that nearly a third of all recalled vehicles go unfixed by their owners. All the more reason for car buyers to be careful.

Fortunately, that doesn’t mean you’re at a disadvantage when buying a used car. Here are some tips:

• Remember that “recall” is not necessarily a bad word. Recalls may be mandated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or voluntarily issued by auto manufacturers to help prevent safety failures.

• With the exception of those involving tires, recalls are in effect for the lifetime of a vehicle. Under federal law, recalls must be remedied at no cost to consumers. Open recalls will only be repaired for free by authorized dealers — those that sell and service your particular vehicle make.

• Check for open recalls when you shop for a used car. If one exists, make an appointment to have it taken care of as soon as possible.

•Recall information is reported to Carfax and can appear in Carfax Vehicle History Reports. A free Recall Check also is available at This free resource helps car buyers instantly identify an open recall on a vehicle they are thinking of buying.

Carfax Vehicle History Reports are available for used cars and light trucks manufactured since 1981. Using the unique 17-character vehicle identification number, a Carfax Report is instantly generated from a database of over 7 billion records reported by 34,000 sources.

For more information about open recalls and other used car buying tips,