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Tips about vehicle recalls

January 30, 2023

Did you know about one in six vehicles on the road in Canada has an outstanding recall?

That amounts to millions of cars with safety-related issues. Many owners are unaware of the recalls, especially if the vehicle is older and has changed hands often.

Up until 2018, only manufacturers could order a safety recall. Now the federal Minister of Transportation has the ability if the manufacturer fails to do so in the interest of public safety.

What is a vehicle recall?

Recalls take place in Canada when a manufacturer learns that one of their models has a safety issue. The manufacturer will notify drivers by mail and ask them to return the vehicle to the nearest dealership. The vehicle is then repaired, and the manufacturer pays the cost.

It’s the responsibility of the vehicle owner to schedule repairs and bring their vehicle to the dealership for service.

Some typical recalls include:

  • Equipment flaws or problems within the vehicle
  • Problem with seats or interior functionality relating to safety
  • Complications with airbags and other safety features
  • Tires issues

Recalls can include everything from faulty brakes, oil leakage, and electrical systems to problems with seat belts. Transport Canada advises owners to check if their vehicles are affected.

Some may seem minor in comparison to defects that increase the risk of a crash or injury, but they are all important to get done.

How do I know if my car has been recalled?

While manufacturers are required to notify owners by mail, those who have purchased vehicles second-hand may not be on the manufacturer’s mailing list. You can check to see if your vehicle has been recalled on the Motor Vehicle Safety Recalls Database. You will need to enter your make, model and year. Your dealership can also check for pending recalls and schedule any necessary repairs.

Other ways to check include:

  • Use the CARFAX Safety Recall Checker Tool. To use it, enter the Vehicle Information Number (VIN) and search the database for open recalls for free
  • Check the manufacturer’s website

Can I buy a car with an open recall?

Before you buy a used car, it’s always a good idea to check to see if it has had recalls in the past or if current recalls exist as this can affect the value and safety of the vehicle.

Currently, it’s not mandatory in any province for cars with an open recall to be repaired prior to registration. That’s because recalls do not fall under safety and mechanical inspections.

If you discover that your car has an outstanding recall, get the issue resolved as quickly as possible.

How does a car recall affect your car insurance?

In most cases, car recalls don't influence insurance rates.

Vehicle manufacturers are responsible for covering recall-related costs and expenses. Because of this, a recall doesn't influence your risk level (as a driver) or put additional financial pressure on your insurer.

If you're involved in a recall-related collision, your insurance company will likely make your manufacturer pay. If you put off getting the recall fixed and it has long-term safety impacts on your car, it could cause your rates to go up, but this is normally not the case.

The main thing to remember about recalls is they are for your safety and the safety of your passengers. That’s the best reason to be aware of if your vehicle has any and to get them done.

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