If you are an automobile owner, it’s up to you to determine how manufacturers should handle certain automotive defects and vehicle part malfunctions.
The news media does a great job of publicizing the list of latest defects plaguing some of the car manufacturers. This is a step in the right direction, but it’s a broad step. Ultimately, it’s up to you, the consumer to initiate the process of making manufacturers responsible for unsafe vehicle defects.
Automotive Hiccup or Potential Manufacturer Recall
When you purchase a car, whether new or used, you expect things to go wrong. No matter how strictly you adhere to automobile manufacturer’s maintenance guidelines, things go wrong. Car malfunctions and part breakdowns are expected. All machines eventually wear out.
However, as a consumer, you have to understand the difference between normal wear and tear and a product defect. Some parts on a car (such as a sub frame) are not supposed to wear out in short order and are expected to last for the lifetime of the car. Other parts (such as a water pump) need to be replaced during the life of the car. The question is when is it wear and tear and when is it a manufacturer’s defect?
Steps for Determining a Potential Automotive Defect
- First you must pinpoint the problem. You may not be able to do this on your own so solicit the help of a qualified mechanic (Uncle Kevin may know a lot about cars, but visiting a certified mechanic is recommended).
- Chat with the mechanic to see if this is an isolated problem or if it is a common occurrence. Sometimes when something goes wrong with your car, you don’t realize that several other car owner have the exact same problem. Your mechanic can provide some inside information on how frequently he has worked on the defective condition.
- Check the internet to research the condition online. Use your favorite search engine and search for the problem. For example, type in the condition such as “Rusted Ford sub frame” or “Toyota sticking accelerator pedal.” By inserting the problematic condition, you’ll find websites, blogs, and news sources that address the problem. If your search comes up empty, rephrase the query. If it continues to come up empty, the problem might not be a wide-spread issue (remember, not every vehicle malfunction is cause for a recall).
Gather the Automotive Defect Information and File a Claim
You must understand that just because several people have the same automotive defect, it doesn’t mean that it will be recalled. The National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration is the organization that investigates unsafe automotive defects in the United States and Transport Canada, Safety & Defects Investigations handles Canadian investigations.
Visit the appropriate website and search for your vehicle’s year, make and model. Once you’ve located your vehicle, check to see if there are any open investigations that may lead to a recall. You might find your vehicle’s defect is currently being investigated. If it is, don’t click away thinking that it’s already handled. Add your information to the list by filing a claim.
The more information the safety organizations have, the better they can investigate the defect and force the manufacturer to issue a recall. If only a small sprinkling of car owners with defective vehicles file claims, the manufacturer will use it as proof that the problem affects only an isolated few thus not requiring a recall.
It’s Up to the Automobile Consumer
If every car owner sat back waiting for the next person to file a claim, the claims would never be filed. Some auto manufacturing defects result in deadly outcomes. It only takes a few minutes to file a claim with the NHTSA or Transport Canada. Your action can potentially save someone’s life.