The National Traffic And Motor Vehicle Safety Act was first enacted in 1966. This gave authorization to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to provide vehicle safety standards for auto manufacturers. The NHTSA has the authority to recall any vehicle that has a defect or does not meet Federal safety standards. Since 1966, there has been over 65 million pieces of motor vehicle equipment found in violation of Federal safety standards. There has also been over 389 million cars, trucks, motorcycles, recreational vehicles as well as mopeds subject to a recall.

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Most of the recalls during this time have been initiated by the manufacturers. Some auto manufactures have been motivated to provide a recall after an NHTSA investigation. Other recalls have been demanded by the courts. If an auto manufacturer discovers any type of defect in their product, they are required by law to notify the NHTSA. Once a safety defect has been detected, the manufacturer must inform the vehicle owners, dealers as well as distributors. The auto defect must then be corrected by the manufacturer at no charge to the vehicle owner. The manufacturer’s corrective actions will be closely monitored by the NHTSA. This is done to make certain the recall campaign is successfully completed.

Safety Defects

Motor vehicle safety is defined in the United States Code for Motor Vehicle Safety (Title 49, Chapter 301). It states that the performance of motor vehicle equipment or a motor vehicle must protect the public from unreasonable risks of accidents. This performance must also prevent unreasonable risk of injury or death in an accident. This includes the safety of a nonoperational motor vehicles. A defect is any type of imperfection in the motor vehicle’s equipment, construction, performance or material. A defect includes anything creating a risk to motor vehicle safety. It also covers equipment that could be in a group of vehicles with an identical manufacturing process or design. A defect also involves any type of equipment from the same manufacturer that could create any type of safety risk.

Reporting Defects

Should a person believe the vehicle they are driving, or any of its equipment has a safety defect, it is important they report it to the NHTSA. The agency will investigate the problems and review the issues surrounding the vehicle’s possible defect. When the NHTSA receives similar reports from a number of individuals concerning the same vehicle or equipment, they will begin a safety-defect investigation. The NHTSA can order an immediate recall.

Safety Hotline

There is a safety hotline available to consumers who have concerns about any possible defects with their vehicle. The hotlines are toll-free and can be used at any location in the United States, Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. Those who call these numbers will be able to register a complaint and obtain information about the recall status of any vehicle. The safety hotlines are 1-888-327-4236 or 1-800-424-9393.

Recall Notification

A manufacturer is required to notify all registered owners and those who purchased the vehicle when it is recalled. This must be done after a determination of a safety defect or noncompliance is made by the NHTSA. The manufacturer must send the notification by first-class mail. It must have information about the potential safety hazard presented by the vehicle’s defect. This notification must contain information on how the defect can be corrected. It must notify the vehicle’s owner the corrections will be made at no cost to them. The notification must also provide the amount of time the correction will take to perform, and whom they should contact if they are unable to get free recall work.


The limitations for receiving remedies at no charge for a recalled vehicle are based on the vehicle’s age. The vehicle with a defect must be less than ten years old on the date the defect is determined. The age of a vehicle is determined from the date of sale to the first purchaser. Consumers need to understand that even when a manufacturer is not required to fix a safety defect in an older vehicle, a safety problem will still exist. It may be important for them to pay to have a safety defect fixed on their own.

Product Liability Claim

If a person is involved in a traffic accident, and their vehicle or the other driver’s vehicle was subject to a defect recall, both may be able to file a product liability claim against the manufacturer. Their case could be based on breach of express warranties, breach of implied warranties as well as products liability. All of the will depend on the circumstances of each individual case.

Jaklitsch Law Group: Attorneys Handling Defective Equipment Cases
Call for a Free Consultation: 301-627-8700 or 866-586-6079

Online: Contact Us