At some point in your vehicle’s life, you may receive a notice of recall – it may be a small problem or a very significant one. Don’t be surprised if you get a letter from your vehicle manufacturer alerting you of a vehicle recall: over 20 million vehicles were recalled in the U.S. just last year – and just last week, Ford recalled over 1.2 million Ford F-150 trucks according to Reuters.

Avoid the chance of a car accident: if you get the recall letter, here’s what to do.

1. Take action!

Your recall letter will inform you of the necessary action you need to take – whether it is a simple fix or an extensive repair. Either way, do not dismiss the recall; get it fixed right away. Usually, the letter will direct you back to the manufacturer’s dealership closest to your locale. For instance, Ford’s recall of the Ford F-150 involves an air bag malfunction that causes the bags to spontaneously inflate. While the chances may be low that it could occur to you, don’t take the chance – take your vehicle in and err on the side of safety.

2. Watch the news, read automotive blogs, and stay in the know.

Recalls are frequently reported in the news, but car companies take a few weeks to several months to actually mail a recall letter to their customers. It’s a good idea to stay in the know and subscribe to industry information about your car manufacturer. Search for relevant blogs, Twitter feeds, or Facebook pages to stay informed.

3. Check for any existing recalls on your vehicle.

While it’s important to stay in the know, many of us lead busy lives and we may not have the time subscribe to blogs or search the news. At the same time, doing a quarterly search of any recall affecting your vehicle is a good alternative, especially if you are not well-connected to the internet community. Go to http://www.safercar.gov for more information on recalls. You can search according to year, make and model. It’s a good idea to do so at least 3 to 4 times a year.

4. Ask your dealership for any recall info.

Your car dealership will know of any outstanding recalls for your vehicle. In fact, the best auto dealerships will call their customer list and inform them of recalls if necessary. Often, better dealerships will also inform customers of recalls when they pop in for oil changes or car service. Ask your car dealership the next time you are in for any repairs.

5. Check for consumer reports regarding “almost recalls”.

Often, a vehicle manufacturer will rarely issue a recall for issues that aren’t big enough to cause a recall – for instance, this may be a faulty or inconsistent tail light that may have a rumored habit of burning out too quickly. In relatively minor cases such as these, it’s important to fix the problem, but many consumers do not know where to turn. Try subscribing to a consumer-oriented website such as Consumer Reports for regular updates on any minor issues that need to be tended to. It may seem like an unnecessary fix, but we urge you to consider fixing even the seemingly small car issues for the sake of safety.

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