Recall Rights: What Rights Do You Have When Your Vehicle Is Recalled?

mechanic inspecting car

At the very best, auto recalls are inconvenient, forcing consumers to take time out of their already busy days to seek repairs. At the very worst, though, an auto recall means that the car has a defective part that may very well contribute to a crash resulting in serious injuries or death.

If you are a consumer whose vehicle has been recalled due to a defective part, there are several things you need to know about recalls, including what your rights are.

Why Are Vehicles Recalled?

A manufacturer of a vehicle may issue a voluntary recall, or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration may mandate that a manufacturer recall a vehicle. Typically, a recall is issued because a number of consumer reports are filed alleging a vehicle defect.

Consider the recent example of the recall of about 2,000 Subarus in the Denver metro area. The recall was initiated due to a potential steering failure in the vehicles, which could increase the risk of an accident, according to an article in ABC 7 News – Denver.

The potential Subaru steering defect is just one type of dozens of vehicle defects that have led to recalls in recent years. Some of the most notable ones include the recall of vehicles with defective ignition devices (GM) and dangerous airbags (Takata), although the list is expansive.

Your Rights During an Auto Recall

If a manufacturer issues a recall of your vehicle, you will receive notification of that recall in the mail. If the make and model of vehicle that you own is determined to have a defect that impairs the vehicle’s safety, you have a number of rights.

These rights include:
The right to be informed of the recall in writingThe right to be informed of the recall in writing

The right to be informed of when the remedy will be available and how long the remedy will takeThe right to be informed of when the remedy will be available and how long the remedy will take

The right to have repairs made free of chargeThe right to have repairs made free of charge

The right to be provided with the contact information of whom you can call if a problem arisesThe right to be provided with the contact information of whom you can call if a problem arises

You should know, the law provides the manufacturer with three options for remedying the defect: repair, replacement, or refund. If one of these options is not provided to you, your rights have been violated.

In some cases, you may notice a defect in your vehicle and seek repairs before a recall has even been issued. If this is the case, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reminds consumers that you may be entitled to reimbursement for repairs. Your right to reimbursement depends on the date you had your vehicle repaired and the date of recall.

Do You Have the Right to File a Product Liability Lawsuit After a Recall?

Although the manufacturer may repair your vehicle for free, replace it, or give you a refund for your vehicle if it is named in a recall, that does not compensate you for any injuries you may have suffered as a result of that vehicle defect.

If a defective vehicle or vehicle part contributes to an accident that results in an injury, you have the right to seek damages from the manufacturer (or other negligent party, such as a car dealer who knowingly sold you a defective car) by filing a product liability lawsuit. A product liability suit against the manufacturer of a defective and recalled vehicle would allege that:

  • The manufacture had a duty to create a vehicle that was safe for use.
  • The manufacturer neglected this duty by defectively designing or manufacturing a vehicle.
  • The vehicle defect was the direct cause of the accident.
  • The accident resulted in harm, such as psychological injuries, physical injuries, missed days from work, permanent disability or disfigurement, medical bills, and more.

The good news is that the majority of defective vehicles are recalled well before they cause drivers or passengers harm. However, if you are the owner of a vehicle that has been listed in a recall, it is within your best interest to seek repairs/replacement as soon as possible.

If you drive your vehicle after you have been informed of the defect and advised not to drive it, and you are injured in an accident as a result, you may be considered partially liable for your damages and unable to recover maximum compensation in a product liability suit.

Stay Informed of Recall Information

It is not just vehicles that may be recalled. Tires and child car seats are often named in recalls as well, as are many non-automobile-related products. In terms of safe driving, you can stay up to date on recall information by regularly visiting The website allows you to search for recall information about your vehicle, child restraint, and tire information, as well as any safety complaints or concerns that have been filed.

Discuss Your Case with an Experienced Colorado Product Liability Attorney

At The Sawaya Law Firm, we sincerely hope that you and your loved ones are never involved in an accident of any type, including one that is caused by a defective vehicle part. If an accident of this type does occur, though, we want you to know that our experienced Denver product liability attorneys are here to help.

Over the years, we have helped countless individuals stand up to big companies that manufacturer defective and dangerous products, and our attorneys have the experience and skillset to fight back.

If you or a family member has been injured in an accident that was caused by a defective auto part, let us help. Contact our offices online or by phone today to schedule a free case consultation and learn more about your options.


Michael established The Sawaya Law Firm in 1977 and built it into one of the largest personal injury law firms in Colorado, with more than 20 lawyers and 80 staff members serving clients from five offices located in Denver, Greeley and Colorado Springs. Throughout its history, the firm has stayed true to its 12 Core Values, which emphasize excellence in advocacy and a commitment to providing outstanding client service. Michael studied sociology and economics as an undergraduate student at The Colorado College, and he earned his law degree from the Texas Tech University School of Law. In addition to being involved in several legal and community organizations, Michael enjoys playing music and cooking, and he has written a book on spiritual matters.