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When are vehicle product recalls necessary?

Product recalls of motor vehicles can understandably alarm Virginians who own recalled automobiles. Virginians may wonder how dangerous a defective auto part actually is or are unsure if they should use their vehicles at all. It may be helpful for Virginians to understand why recalls might occur.

In the United States, there are certain safety standards by which vehicles must abide. The Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or NHTSA has the authority to issue these safety standards. The NHTSA can also demand that manufacturers whose vehicles have safety-related defects or whose vehicles do not comply with federal safety standards must recall these potentially dangerous products.

Manufacturers may also initiate product recalls voluntarily. Manufacturers may discover a safety defect through their own inspection procedures or other tests. Even though they might have discovered the defect independently, the manufacturer must still report the findings of the defect to the NHTSA and proceed to correct the defect.

A recall becomes necessary when a motor vehicle, or its equipment, does not meet the requirements of a Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard. Additionally, a recall will be necessary if a vehicle or its equipment has a safety-related defect. When the manufacturer discovers a defect, the manufacturer is required to notify not only the NHTSA, but also all owners, dealers and distributors of the relevant vehicle.

Vehicle owners will likely want to have their vehicles repaired, and fortunately, the manufacturer must remedy the defect without charging the vehicle owner. The NHTSA will monitor how the manufacturer is handling the recall and the corrective action they are taking.

A person who has been injured due to a defective automobile may have a product liability legal claim. He or she may wish to seek out legal counsel to discuss their rights and possible options.

Source: nhtsa.gov, "Motor Vehicle Safety Defects and Recalls Campaigns," accessed Oct. 30, 2015

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