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Dangerous Vehicle Defects & Recalls: What You Should Know

inside hood of car

Distracted, drunk or erratic drivers can cause car accidents. However, other motorists aren’t the only dangers on the road. Defective vehicles are also a serious hazard to the average driver.

Each year, new vehicle defects emerge and new mandatory vehicle recalls are issued. To stay out of accidents and to avoid serious injuries, you should be aware of common reasons why vehicles get recalled and what to do if your vehicle has been included in a mandatory recall.

How Can You Know If Your Car Was Recalled?

First things first, though, you should find out if the car you drive right now is subject to a mandatory recall. Auto manufacturers and dealerships are supposed to reach out via email and traditional mail to notify you that your vehicle has been recalled. Getting into quick contact with you might be difficult, though, especially if the dealership that sold your vehicle does not know where you live now, if you changed your phone number, or if you have a new email address. Also, waiting for a letter to show up to your mailbox could mean you spend weeks driving a dangerously defective vehicle without knowing it.

To find out for yourself right away if your specific vehicle has been recalled, please visit On this official National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) website, you can type in your vehicle’s specific Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) and it will quickly tell you if it has been recalled for a serious safety issue. For most cars, you can locate the VIN in the lower left of your windshield, as well as on the frame that becomes visible when you open the driver’s door.

Dangerous Vehicle Defects That Reach News Headlines

There are all sorts of reasons why a vehicle might be recalled, and not all of them cause a serious risk of severe injury. Many do, however, and they are often brought to the nation’s attention through news headlines.

Some of the most common and most dangerous vehicle defects are:

  • Accelerator defects: In what might appears to be the most expensive auto recall in history, Toyota recalled some 9 million vehicles between 2009 and 2010 due to accelerator defects that could randomly force a vehicle to accelerate until stopped via a collision. An estimated 30 fatal crashes were caused by the defects before Toyota scrambled to make a series of recalls.
  • Airbag failures: A few years ago, the Japanese Takata Corp. was discovered to have produced millions of dangerously defective airbags, leading to the largest auto-part recall in history. The airbags, intended to make vehicles safer, were manufactured in such a way that turned it into a bomb, even in low-impact accidents. Takata airbags have exploded into steel shrapnel, killing drivers and passengers due to deep lacerations. Over 41 million vehicles had to be recalled.
  • Brake failure: Defective brakes systems have persistently been a problem for automakers and consumers alike. As recently as winter 2018, Toyota announced the recall of nearly 150,000 vehicles for brake problems that could drastically increase braking distances (the distance required between applying pressure to the brake pedal and coming to a stop) without warning.
  • Fires: Poorly designed engines and ignition systems may overheat and cause a fire, endangering all within and near the vehicle. Kia recently announced a mandatory recall for many of its 2-liter turbocharged engine systems due to the risk of Engine fires have also been a serious problem for Tesla vehicles, which have a high chance of igniting after a front-end collision. Tesla autonomous have even burst into flame a second time, well after the initial flames have been extinguished.
  • Restraint system failure: Putting Takata back into the picture, back in 1995, a massive 8-million-vehicle recall occurred when the NHTSA determined Takata Corp. restraint and seatbelts could lock in the event of a crash, trapping passengers inside.
  • Seatback failure: In 2016, the NHTSA warned that a wide variety of vehicle makes and models were subject to dangerous seatback failures in rear-end collisions. It found that the front seats of a defective vehicle would crumple in a strong impact. The driver could suffer severe back injuries, but the worst injuries were suffered by people seated in the next row of seats, who would be crushed as the seat and other passenger flew into them. This has resulted in serious injuries, particularly to children in safety seats.

What Should You Do If Your Vehicle is Recalled? If You Are Hurt?

If your vehicle has been included in a mandatory recall, then you should get into immediate contact with a local dealership to arrange for repair or replacement work on your vehicle. Mandatory recall work should be covered entirely by the manufacturer, but vehicles are often worked on using a “first come, first serve” basis. Do not wait to see how your auto manufacturer will handle and correct your vehicle’s recall.

If you or a loved one have already been hurt due to a vehicle recall, then it is time to take legal action instead. Contact Cutt, Kendell & Olson and our team of Salt Lake City vehicle defect attorneys, who are ready to stand up for you and seek maximized compensation on your behalf. Even if you were not harmed physically by the event, you or a family member may understandably suffer emotionally and psychologically from the frightening scene caused by a serious vehicle defect, such as an engine fire. Since our founding in 2000, we have recovered more than $500 million for our clients, and we would like to see what we can do for you.

Call (801) 901-3470 or use an online contact form to speak with our attorneys.

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