Better Safe Than Sorry: Understanding Car Recalls


WORCESTER, MA--May 16, 2014: Do you know if your car has any open manufacturer issued safety recalls? Amazingly one-third of all vehicles recalled by automakers are never brought to dealers. The reasons people don't take advantage of these repairs range from not being aware of the recall to not having the time to give up the car to make a repair.

If your car seems to be running smoothly, a safety recall may seem to be an inconvenience but there are good reasons to get a defective part fixed as soon as you can. First and foremost is safety, for you and your family. Recent research from the Highway Loss Data Institute found that repairing recalled vehicles reduces "dangerous incidents" for drivers. The study looked at non-crash fire claims and found fewer insurance claims for those who made a recall required repair.

With car recalls being announced so frequently, however, it's difficult to keep track of the manufacturers, models and malfunctions. In 2013, 22 million cars were recalled and that number is expected to be higher in 2014. "Getting unsafe cars and trucks off the road to be repaired is important for the safety of all drivers," said Mark R. Desrochers, president, Personal Lines insurance at The Hanover. "The end result is fewer accidents and more lives saved."


New in 2014, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has created a standardized label that car manufacturers must use when sending recall notices in an effort to increase recall completion rates. The intent of this easily identifiable label is to help consumers clarify that a mailing is legitimately a recall and not a solicitation piece.

The NHTSA also offers a free mobile app called SaferCar for Apple or Android smartphones that will provide recall notifications right to your phone based on your car make and model. A website called DriverSide tracks car recalls, as well as maintenance and repair information, and is a free service available to Hanover's Platinum Experience customers.

"These efforts by industry and government emphasize the importance of sharing information and consumers acting quickly when recall notices are issued," Desrochers said.


Purchasing a used car presents unique challenges relating to safety recalls. According to Carfax, 1 in 10 used cars for sale online have an open recall. Owners are not obligated to fix issued recalls before selling but it is important to know about existing and future recall notices. Always ask a seller for proof of prior recalls being repaired.

Manufacturers often don't have updated information when a car has had multiple owners so it is important to contact the manufacturer via their website or customer service line after completing a used car purchase. Use the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) located inside the front driver's side door to register the new email and mailing address for future recall notices.


When it comes to car recalls, as the saying goes, "Better safe than sorry." Keep in mind that recalls are costly to manufacturers and only issued when the NHTSA deems them necessary due to safety considerations.

Industry experts believe the increasing number of recalls is likely due to several factors, including the auto industry's increased use of modular components that are used across multiple models, as well as a growing use of onboard software related to airbag deployment. Importantly, insurance rates will not increase based on the fact that a manufacturer has issued a recall on a particular vehicle model.

Consumers can report potential vehicle-related safety defects for review by the NHTSA by calling 1-888-327-4236 or 1-800-424-9393.

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