You depend on your vehicle to get you to your destination without problems. Unfortunately, there are more vehicles on the road with defects than you might think. Some of those vehicles were lemons at the time they were sold, while others simply have owners that aren't aware of a safety recall.

There are two important concepts to understand when it comes to vehicle safety. The first is how vehicle safety complaints are made and what they can affect. The second is the vehicle recall process.

When you discover a safety issue with your vehicle, you can register an official complaint with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The NHTSA will investigate these complaints, and if they determine a manufacturer has used a defective part they will issue a recall.

Sometimes a manufacturer will issue a recall on their own without the NHTSA getting involved. A recall is a notice to consumers that a certain vehicle model has a defective part or does not comply with a certain safety standard. The recall notice will inform consumers on how they can have their vehicle repaired at no cost.

Types of Vehicle Complaints

The NHTSA reviews tens of thousands of complaints each year. They sift through each complaint, considering the necessity of a recall with each one. Here are some of the most common safety-related complaints:

  • Steering components that malfunction and cause loss of control of the vehicle
  • Transmission software or hardware malfunctions; premature wear of transmission components causing lagging or jerking acceleration
  • Fuel system problems that can lead to loss of control or fire
  • Broken or malfunctioning accelerator controls
  • Cracked or broken wheels
  • Snapped engine blade fans that can cause driver injury
  • Seat failure
  • Seatbelt failure
  • Wiring problems that can lead to fire or loss of lighting
  • Faulty car jacks
  • Airbags that fail to deploy or deploy prematurely

The NHTSA Recall Process

Not every complaint made to the NHTSA results in a recall. The Administration goes through a process with each complaint to determine if a recall is necessary. Below is the process that a complaint can become a recall.

  1. Any safety concern you have regarding your vehicle should be lodged as a complaint with the NHTSA's investigative unit, the Office of Defects Investigation (ODI). Complaints can be lodged online. Your complaint will have to include the vehicle identification number (VIN) for your vehicle, as well as information regarding the potential defect.
  2. Every complaint goes into the NHTSA complaint database. The database is open to the public, although your identifying information is reviewed. The NHTSA reviews each complaint, and if investigators with the ODI feel it is warranted, they will open an inquiry to determine if there is a trend regarding a specific defect.
  3. When an inquiry is opened, the first phase is known as the Preliminary Evaluation phase. During this phase, the investigators review similar complaints and compare it to crash data as well as information supplied by the manufacturer. The inquiry will be closed if investigators determine there is no safety defect, or if the manufacturer voluntarily issues a recall.
  4. If the investigators believe more analysis is needed, the inquiry goes into a second phase known as Engineering Analysis. During this phase, investigators take the data reviewed during the Preliminary Evaluation and conduct additional testing using information from parts suppliers and manufacturers. If investigators determine a defect exists, the manufacturer is given the opportunity to present additional data or to address the issue. If a recall is warranted, investigators will send a formal Recall Request Letter to the manufacturer.

How to Find Recall Information for your Vehicle

The NHTSA makes it easy to review vehicle safety issues. You can navigate to their website where you can choose between searching for recall information, consumer complaints, and ongoing defect investigations. You can also search for a specific recall or by your VIN number.

Do you think you might have a lemon?

If you are concerned that your vehicle is a lemon or that it has a defect that is not being addressed by the manufacturer, contact The Lemon Lawyer today. Our experienced attorneys can answer your questions related to California Lemon Laws and NHTSA recall procedures. Contact us right away on our website or call (844) 227-7762 to schedule your free consultation.

Don't Hesitate

The longer you let your car sit in the shop, the greater the cost is to you. If you think you may have a case, get in touch with one of our attorneys today.