My car has been recalled! Should I be worried?
Published Saturday, February 6, 2010 7:18AM EST
Over the past few weeks Toyota, the world's largest automaker, has recalled millions of vehicles worldwide over a faulty part that can cause accelerator pedals to stick in some models.
With hundreds of thousands of Canadian Toyota owners affected by the recalls -- and many other car owners concerned about the safety of their own vehicles -- CTV.ca spoke to George Iny, Director of the Automobile Protection Association about who should be worried, and what to do if your car is recalled.
What is a recall?
It's a notice from the manufacturer telling you there are some aspects of the vehicle that pose a risk of major injury or property damage. It also potentially tells you that the vehicle does not comply with some legal requirement.
How worried should I be if my car is subject to a recall?
A compliance recall could be very minor, it could be for example, a label that's supposed to be bilingual, but is only in one language.
In any given year, there are 200 recalls in Canada, but the actual number of incidents in Canada is generally very low.
Generally at the level of the individual, the likelihood of an incident is barely more than one in many thousand.
How do I find out about a recall? Will I get a letter in the mail?
Owners might get a notice in the mail, but 30 per cent of cars that are recalled never get fixed.
It's a weakness in the law. The requirement is that the manufacturer send the notice to the address in their record. If you moved or are the second owner of the car, you might not get the notice, even if you bought the car at the dealer of the same brand. They don't have to find you, and they won't look.
So how do I get in contact with the manufacturer to get my address updated?
The dealer can do it. They may have a customer service phone number that will allow you to do it.
Is there somewhere I can go online where all recalls are registered?
Transport Canada has a relatively good website that keeps a record of all recalls. It won't tell you if your car specifically needs to be fixed but it will tell you if the model of your car is subject to a recall.
It turns out my car is subject to a recall. What do I do now?
Call the dealer and make an appointment to have the vehicle corrected. The repair is nearly always free. Sometimes if there are extra costs you pay those but it's very much the minority of recalls.
What isn't covered by a recall?
As a general rule, normal maintenance, and bad repairs that someone did on your car. By law it's not required if there's no safety component to it.
Is a Technical Service Bulletin different from a recall? How so?
A recall is a notice sent to you about a modification recommended by the manufacturer. The dealer will do that modification using a guideline that was sent to them from the manufacturer. That list of instructions is called a technical service bulletin.
Manufacturers are making changes all the time on vehicles that aren't necessarily safety issues. Technical bulletins are harmless.
I own one of those recalled Toyotas with the accelerator problem. What can I do to drive safely until the problem is fixed?
Specifically with Toyota the level of media scrutiny and reporting has been relatively high on this issue, but the actual likelihood of you having an incident is relatively low. You might want to practice before you get the part.
Our recommendation is to drive on an empty stretch of road, then put your foot to the floor. You do it for a second or two and then shift into neutral.
It's going to sound very noisy because your engine will be racing. When that happens, take your foot off the gas and bring your car to a stop gently.
After you're done practicing, you should use this technique in case of sudden acceleration while you drive. Do not try to fight the car while it is in gear.