On Your Side Alert: Vehicle recall rights

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - It seems that we report on a vehicle recalls on a weekly basis. With so many alerts, we're getting answers about what steps you should take, and what your rights are.

No doubt you've heard about a recall recently. GM and Toyota have flooded the headlines.
That raises questions about  what should you do - or whether you need to do anything at all.
Consumer attorney John Gayle says when you hear about a recall that involves your car don't wait - take it to the dealer.

"The whole purpose behind a recall is to keep the roads safe," said consumer attorney John Gayle. "They are not going to be problems that are minor mechanical things or something like the paint may be peeling."

Gayle says his phone begins to ring the minute the news breaks.

"My calls often are people who get a recall and say, 'Oh, I have gotten a recall notice, can I get my money back on my car that is long out of warranty?' And the answer is no."

But keep in mind if there is a recall involving your car, the problem will be fixed for free.

Another question Gayle answered is what happens if you're injured or if someone you know is seriously hurt or dies due to a problem involving a recall.   

"It is no different from any other injury. As long as somebody has died as a result of the product that was negligently  manufactured or designed, then the manufacture of that product is responsible for the death," Gayle said.

If there is an accident, Gayle said it's important to get an attorney and document everything before repairs are made. That includes keeping the part that's replaced in case you need it for evidence.

Experts say don't always expect a letter about a recall in the mail. Many times if a car is sold, the manufacture has no way of getting in touch with the current owner.
For the latest information, check the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's site and recalls.gov. You can also call your dealership.

Consumers experts also say while many rental car companies will remove recalled cars from their inventory, you still need to ask to make sure the car you're renting is not affected.

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