What to do if your car is recalled

While these were easily the most mentioned recalls of the past 12 months, safety recalls are an unfortunate possibility when buying a new or used car.

Luckily, the majority pose no major risk to a driver and recalls are often issued even when there are no reported incidents of accidents because of the defect.

Ranging from fraying seatbelts to faulty accelerator pedals, recalls can cover a wide range of issues. While they remain relatively rare as quality and reliability of new cars improves, there is a slim chance you will receive a letter asking you to attend a voluntary (or involuntary) recall.

Who decides my car needs to be recalled?

The Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) represents the Secretary of State for Transport and, along with notable motoring organisations, has designed a code to decide if a recall is necessary.

A manufacturer will notify VOSA itself of a safety defect if it finds one that falls under the criteria of the code.

VOSA will then advise the manufacturer and any affected suppliers of parts on what action should be taken, but the responsibility lies with the manufacturer generally.

Manufacturers will be keen to sort any safety problems as soon as possible to avoid any accidents or high-profile recalls such as the Toyota issue. This means any recalls will most probably be issued quickly and efficiently.

How do I know if my car has been recalled?

Usually the manufacturer or dealership will contact you directly if your car is ‘defective’. This can come in the form or a phone call, or more likely, a letter.

The information should be included in the letter, including the model affected and what action is advised. If you do receive the letter, don’t panic. The majority of recalls allow the car to be operated as normal until it is fixed.

However, it is important to act immediately based on the suggested advice.

For more information, manufacturers generally put up websites and phone lines to advise customers on recalls.

However, if you’ve bought a used car or moved house, there is a chance the car has been recalled and you don’t know about it.

You can check all VOSA-approved recalls, and find if your car is affected, on the VOSA website.

Finally, you can also contact the manufacturer directly. They will be able to tell you if the car has been the subject of a recall and what action should be taken.

Where do I take my car for a recall?

Official dealerships and repair centres will be the only places capable of fixing the problem, even if it isn’t the same place you bought the car from.

It is very important to take the car to get the work done as soon as possible after receiving the letter – or even before if you know about the issue beforehand. Just because the car has not had problems so far doesn’t mean it won’t develop them in future.

Do I need to pay for my car recall?

If the manufacturer has contacted you with information about a safety defect or if you’ve found an official manufacturer recall, it will be completely free.

I’ve bought a used car, does it need a recall?

If you’re buying a used car, it could be possible the car has had a recall but has not been taken in for repairs.

If you’re buying a used car, always check it doesn’t need a recall on the VOSA website or by contacting the vehicle manufacturer. The recall should match the car’s make, model, date of registration and VIN.

The manufacturer can also be contacted to find if the vehicle has been fixed. They will also be able to advise on the correct course of action to take, but more often than not it will result in a trip to a dealer to get the problem fixed.What to do when your car is recalled