How do you respond when your car is recalled? There's no consensus, it turns out

September 6, 2016

If you own a car built in the last decade, odds are that an envelope has arrived in your mailbox that announces a voluntary recall to address something—whether it's something as innocuous as an errant warning light or as serious as a faulty engine component.

But, as our recent poll indicates, we don't all respond with the same level of urgency to a recall notice. 

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About half of respondents to our Twitter poll head straight to their local dealership to have the issue addressed. Roughly the same number of respondents take a more relaxed approach and wait until the next time they have a service appointment at their dealership. Just 6 percent of respondents say that they ignore the recall notice entirely, which is a practice we can't recommend.

Recalls have become commonplace and are almost a daily occurrence—not only because cars are vastly more complicated today than they were even a decade ago, but also because the stakes have become much higher. A series of high-profile recalls were set into motion about 15 years ago when Ford and Firestone were forced to recall hundreds of thousands of SUVs over faulty tires. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles even dangled Visa gift cards for owners who hadn't complied with a series of recalls related to their gas tanks to entice them to bring those cars in for service.

More recently, major recalls have included an issue related to a defective ignition switch in certain General Motors vehicles that was linked to 124 deaths nationwide, poorly designed floor mats in select Toyota and Lexus products, and, of course, the biggest recall in history—potentially fatal airbags produced by supplier Takata and used in vehicles built by almost every manufacturer.


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