You’ve just been issued a recall notice or found out that your vehicle had just been recalled online – what should you do now?

Numerous products are recalled every year, ranging from children’s toys, household appliances, to food products. Recalls on vehicle models, car seats and tires are all ones that can affect drivers, and while it’s best to take care of the issue immediately, not everyone knows what to do when they receive that recall letter in the mail.

Recalls are issued when a manufacturer identifies a specific problem in a vehicle model or vehicle part. Some of the problems that may prompt a recall include minor issues with improper parts labelling to more serious safety issues like airbag deployment.

Over the years, auto makers have also been taking fewer and fewer chances and are working to handle recalls efficiently for the sake of everyone on the road. As a driver, it’s important to update your contact information with your local dealership to make sure you can be easily reached in case of a recall.

Once a defect has been identified, manufacturers are required to alert owners via mail and offer free repairs for the defective part. The letter will also provide detailed instructions on the next steps and where to bring your vehicle – often, that would be to your vehicle brand’s nearest new car dealer.

Although most recalls aren’t for imminent dangers (you would be notified to stop driving immediately if it were), it is recommended to avoid the risk and have the repair done as soon as possible. As every driver given notice would be bringing in their vehicles to the dealer, it’s also a good idea to bring it in early to get a jump start on the possible waitlist. Remember to also bring the recall letter with you to the dealer.

It’s also important to assess the recall. Is the recall for a key operating component or for something minor? If key operating components like acceleration, braking, steering or fuel systems are affected, do not ignore the notice and bring your vehicle to the dealership as soon as you can. A recall occurring currently for some vehicle manufacturers is air bags.

One thing to keep in mind is that if you’re driving a used car, only the first owner would be notified of the recall. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s website contains up-to-date information on recalls as does Transport Canada, so remember to check those databases before purchasing a used vehicle. Transport Canada’s Motor Vehicle Safety Recall Database is simple and easy to use.

Receiving a recall notice in the mail can certainly be stressful and concerning for drivers, but it’s important to remember that most manufacturers err on the side of caution, and that a recall doesn’t mean that the part will immediately fail. Take care of the issue in a timely manner and your vehicle will be back on the road in no time.

If you’re not sure how to access the recall or need expert advice or details on next steps, call your nearest new car dealer for more information.

The 98thVancouver International Auto Show returns to the Convention Centre West from March 28 to April 1, 2018. For more information on the Show and to purchase tickets, visit

Blair Qualey is President and CEO of the New Car Dealers Association of BC. You can email him at

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